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Coursera’s Contractual Elitism

22 Mar

By Ry Rivard

If you wonder why your university hasn’t linked up with Coursera, the massively popular provider of free online classes, it may help to know the company is contractually obliged to turn away the vast majority of American universities.

The Silicon Valley-based company said to be revolutionizing higher education says in a contract obtained by Inside Higher Ed that it will “only” offer classes from elite institutions – the members of the Association of American Universities or “top five” universities in countries outside of North America – unless Coursera’s advisory board agrees to waive the requirement.

The little-known contractual language appears in agreements Coursera signs with the 62 universities it partners with, including in a recently signed contract with the University of California at Santa Cruz, one of a handful of non-AAU universities on Coursera.

The provision obligates the company, on paper at least, to give AAU members de facto preference. That association, which has 62 members (two of them Canadian) in a country with roughly 4,000 colleges and universities, is committed to staying relatively small, to the frustration of universities seeking to join.

[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/22/coursera-commits-admitting-only-elite-universities ]

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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in MOOCs in the News

 

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