Coursera as a MOOC platform

Year Founded 2012
Country America
Users 10,550,000
No. of Courses 882
Subject Categories 25
Support Italian Language Yes
Responsive Interface Yes
Features 1)      Video

2)      Text page

3)      Web link

4)      File attachment

5)      Progress

6)      Quiz

7)      Assignment

8)      Peer assessment

9)      Survey

10)  Discussion

11)  Wiki

Cost Free to design free access courses to the public for partner universities
Study Mode Scheduled + Self-paced
Learning Analytics Fully Supported
Recommendation Star  6


Coursera is no doubt our first choice if they agree to collaborate with us. It is majorly because it is one of the most popular MOOCs platforms globally and joining its partner universities list will significantly enhance the brand of our university and help our MOOCs reach out to the largest user groups when compared to other MOOCs platforms.


Coursera ( was founded by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller in April 2012 in the USA. It now has attracted 10,550,000 users on the platform with 882 courses under 25 subject categories. In total 97 Universities globally have partnered up with Coursera. In Switzerland, there are four partner universities with Coursera. They are: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (18 courses), University of Geneva (7 courses), University of Lausanne (3 courses), and University of Zurich (2 courses). Among six picks from the project meeting on January 16, 2015, Coursera is the most famous MOOCs provider brand, which was listed as Three Big with edX and Udacity.

Concerning multilingual support on the platform, Coursera at present has 20 languages in the list. When a course is listed under certain language category, it doesn’t mean the instruction language is in that language but means partial videos use subtitle of that language. A look into the seven courses listed under Italian language category showed that only one completely uses Italian as the instruction language: La visione del mondo della Relatività e della Meccanica Quantistica, by Sapienza University of Rome.

In the Top 10 Most Anticipated MOOCs of 2015 listed by Class Central, 8 are from Coursera. So it will be a good choice to partner with Coursera to either brand our university or launch courses of high quality with its technical support.

Coursera doesn’t support any social networking site account (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, etc.) login or signup.



No doubts that Coursera has very powerful course features to enable the instructors and students to conduct various teaching and learning activities on the platform. These features include but not limited to: upload/embed videos, build up text pages, attach files, share web links, organize section titles, display learning progress of the student, quizzes with various questions types (Multiple choice, Multiple answer,Fill-in blank,True/False, and Others), assignment, peer assessment, survey, discussion forums, wiki. End users can access to Coursera either on desktop or its mobile app from mobiles/tablets. And when using browers on mobile devices to visit Coursera, you can see it has responsive interface which can adjust itself for better look to different sizes of screens. Meanwhile, the Coursera platform provides some of analytics tools, allowing instructors to track broad reach, engagement, and performance in their MOOCs.

So as you may see from the screenshots below, a course (self-paced) on Coursera is divided into several sections and they can be folded to hide all items contained or unfolded to display all contents under the sections. On the right corner of the section title, it shows the expected time needed to finish the section. Any finished task will have a green light at the beginning of the task title.


For schedule courses that are still ongoing, the interface of the course looks quite different from the above.


The ongoing course is divided into three columns on the page framework. On the left panel, you see the navigation part of your course. In the middle, it’s the major content display area. On the right sidebar, you see upcoming dealines, new lectures, recent discussions, etc.



Based on the collected three contracts/agreement (University of Michigan with Coursera, University of Michigan and Coursera, West Virginia University and Coursera) and the website of SUNY, it shows that

  • At no cost to University of Michigan, in April 2012 the university could design and deliver the open access courses to be launched on Coursera.
  • In May 2013, at $3000 one-time payment, SUNY was one of ten public university systems that announced an agreement with Coursera to design and submit its MOOCs to be launched on Coursera.
  • In July 2012, at no cost to University of Toronto, the university could design and deliver the open access courses to be launched on Coursera.
  • In May 2013, West Virginia University signed agreement with Coursera for guided courses launched on the platform for registered students. Price list was provided but no specific final cost was listed.

1)  For Guided courses

Coursera contracted with 10 university systems, including SUNY, in May 2012. The originating campus is responsible for a one-time $3,000 course development fee that covers the cost of instructional consultation with Coursera, transcription and captioning of course content, and use of the Coursera platform and related resources.  Once this development fee is paid, the same course can continue to be offered without any additional development cost.

The contract with the University of Kentucky, similar to those with the other nine, specifies “guided” courses, “open access” courses, and “licensed” courses. The differences lie primarily in how much of the content is university developed, how much comes from Coursera, and how the revenue is shared. Guided courses are essentially developed and administered by the university using the Coursera platform and open to registered university students. Access courses may be taken by anyone using the Coursera-administered website; credit bearing and non-credit bearing enrollments are both accepted. “Monetizing” such courses is mentioned in the contract, but terms are not specified. Licensed courses are developed by the University and sold to third party institutions; revenues are shared by Coursera and the University.

Coursera’s university-system contracts set a flat fee for guided course development and an additional payment for each student. Under its contract with the University of Kentucky, the course-development fee is $3,000, and per-student fees are $25 each for the first 500 registered students, $15 apiece for the next 500, and $8 each for those beyond 1,000. The “monetizing” of access and licensed courses is referred to in the contracts but no fees are specified.

2)  For Open access courses

For open access courses, there are three content services and revenue models are provided. (a) Coursera Monetization Model, (b) University Monetization Model, (c) Registered Students Model. Details could be obtained below from the snapshots of the agreement document between University of Toronto and Coursera (Page 4-5).

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So the good news is that being Coursera’s MOOCs partner institute who is trying to deliver open access courses on Coursera actually doesn’t cost much or it can be free. But bad news is that Coursera claimed in 2013 that it only is willing to partner with top Ivy Universities in the USA or top 5 universities of the country outside the USA.

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