Follow-up on a new? Coursera site

What is Pakcoursera? It looks like it is run by venture capitalists who are re-selling Coursera specializations. Is this the type of partnerships Coursera engages in now? Coursera is a vendor contracting/partnering with another vendor now? If people in Pakistan want to take Coursera courses, why do they need to purchase those courses from another organization and register with another organization in addition to registering with Coursera?

It looks like this same outfit that now calls itself Pakcoursera at one time called itself Pakedx and was selling and advertising edx and Coursera courses, and claiming that by doing so they (that is, pakedx) was the first MOOC platform in Pakistan. They also used to claim that taking these edx and Coursera courses through pakedx would enable students to earn accredited certificates and degrees by taking free MOOCs.

How desperate has Coursera become to make a new partnership like this? Partnerships aren’t a new strategy, but this looks like a new kind of partnership with a new strategy.

MOOCs are not part of the higher ed pie

This post is in response to this article on Inside Higher Ed.

The main reason why MOOCs are not part of the higher ed pie is because they are not higher ed. To put MOOCs on the same level as accredited, higher ed courses is to misunderstand MOOCs. Those universities that might use a MOOC or two as partial credit toward one of their accredited courses or programs understand that MOOCs alone are not equal to higher ed.

Some MOOCs pose as higher ed and draw the naive away from universities. As university enrollments decrease, the need for professors in those universities decreases. The uninformed buy the argument that MOOCs give you the same education as a university only at a lower cost. That is bunk.

There is a reason why anybody can enroll in a MOOC and why MOOCs have a lower price tag than higher ed and it is precisely because they are not higher ed.

With all the disdain against for-profit universities being referred to as lower ed, some forget that MOOCs are even lower than that. At least with some for-profit university courses or degrees a person receives actual accredited academic credit. And, remember, for-profit MOOC platforms have the main goal of profit seeking just as strongly as for-profit universities do, but students end up with even less.

MOOCs are not part of the higher ed pie. If MOOCs claim to be part of the higher ed pie, then they are really just a child’s mud pie posing as a real pie.

I am a proponent of MOOCs, but they need to be understood properly.

What to do about drop-out rates?

MOOCs experience high drop-out rates. This results in lower revenue for MOOC platforms. In order to combat that, platforms realized they needed a human touch. This comes in the form of mentors.

Coursera does this using unpaid mentors.

Springboard does this using paid mentors (per-student, honorarium basis).

Students pay to receive credentials for these courses.

  1. Which is worth your money as a student? The one that uses unpaid, non-expert mentors or the one that uses paid, expert mentors?
  2. Which for-profit educational technology company is being legal and ethical? The one that does not pay mentors or the one that pays mentors?

Drop-out rates is an issue, but so is the way that companies choose to address it.