As we were saying… (Coursera as Provider of Courseware)

Given the recent Coursera news, in which Coursera has essentially become a supplier of courseware to higher education, I made a snarky comment on twitter that I was surprised that so few people had seen this coming. Martin Weller quite politely replied that he hadn’t seen it coming, at least not clearly, and could I link to the piece of mine that discussed this.

It’s a good question. Unfortunately, I tend to advance arguments over a series of blog posts (which is probably why I end up permanently a niche blogger — most people coming to my blog for the first time probably have no idea what I’m on about).

So Martin’s question is a good excuse to do a “story up until now post”, and point to posts over the last six or seven months that have advanced the argument. The most free standing one is probably January’s “Both MOOCs and Textbooks Will End Up Courseware” but the earliest one is from October 2012’s “Coursera Praises MOOC-Wrapping as They Attempt to Ban It“:

We now understand the endgame here. We now get the business model. The idea is not “send your students to us!”. The idea is to become yet another online vendor of services to higher ed.

[It also worth noting that a number of others have been making this argument as well. Michael Feldstein’s April 2013 article is probably the most complete example, but Downes, Wiley, Phil Hill, Bryan Alexander, Amy Collier, Derek Bruff and others have alluded to aspects of this transition too. (I missed people there — I’m sorry, not intentional)]

But here we go, working backwards. Just a sample, because, as I said, it’s been an obsession:

May 2013. “The Bigger Picture is Corporate-Built Online Delivered Through Traditional F2F Institutions

Schools are going to have to build online resources with someone. It could be CourdacityX, it could be Pearson, or it could be with each other. The online resources are coming. It’s really just a matter of choosing how we want to build them.


February 2013: “The Oddity of MOOCs as OER and the Issue of Integration Cost

In other words, as the hype about classroom use of MOOCs is beginning to hit the inflection point, we find that MOOCs in face-to-face classrooms are essentially being used as OER and OCW.


January 2013. “Both MOOCs and Textbooks Will End Up Courseware

What’s happening right now is that xMOOCs are moving backwards into replicable content from the interaction and assessment pole while textbooks are  are moving forward into interaction and assessment from the replicable content pole.

The end result of this is not necessarily massive classes. It’s broadly used courseware — software that provides much of the skeleton of standard classes the way publisher texts do today. In other words, the best way to think of a MOOC isn’t really as a class brought to your doorstep — it’s more a textbook with ambitions.

October 2012, “MOOCs = OCW + Cohorts

What I think is missed in the hoopla about xMOOCs is — if you look at this long term — this is precisely what has happened. Right now, as we look at the first pass of these courses we are looking at new video, new pieces, etc. We think of it as a new course being “run”. But these courses will start to be rerun soon, and at that point it is basically OCW with a cohort. 


 October 2012  “Coursera Praises MOOC-Wrapping as They Attempt to Ban It“:

We now understand the endgame here. We now get the business model. The idea is not “send your students to us!”. The idea is to become yet another online vendor of services to higher ed.


January 2011 (Oh, why not, just for fun — to show this issue existed pre-MOOC): Course Redesign @ KSC: A Courseware Approach [Slides from AASCU Winter Meeting]

“What’s a better idea [than traditional OCW]? Framework-based, open teaching materials with assessment baked in…A project where multiple campuses draft up a couple frameworks that work, and start building 2-8 hour modules on the basic skills stuff that is a barrier for our students…In ways multiple campuses can use out-of-box, from web-enhanced, to blended, to online.”

20 thoughts on “As we were saying… (Coursera as Provider of Courseware)

  1. Thanks for taking the time to do this Mike. You know, I really didn’t see this as the endgame. But you were right – you win most prescient post of the year award with “We now understand the endgame here. We now get the business model. The idea is not “send your students to us!”. The idea is to become yet another online vendor of services to higher ed.” That looks like what they want to do.
    I hope to get around to blogging it too.

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