The online learning company Coursera was started by two Stanford University professors in 2012. They offered MOOCs, or massive open online courses, from partner universities including Stanford, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.
Current CEO Jeff Maggioncalda describes it as “a company that’s dedicated to trying to help educate the world.” Many of the courses it offers are free or have a free component to them. It’s increased the number of partners, too, and now offers courses from universities around the world like Sciences Po in France, from businesses like Goldman Sachs and from institutions like The Museum of Modern Art.
But Coursera may have also figured out how to make money. It offers certifications, business training and even full college degrees at a fraction of the cost its partner universities charge for students enrolled on campus. It’s a formula that has prompted Maggioncalda to say the private company is worth over a billion dollars.
The financial and time requirements for many professionals to go back to school can be overwhelming, Maggioncalda said. But it becomes doable “if you can earn that degree and it’s the same diploma from a top university. And you can get it from the same professors, you get it for half the price, you don’t have to quit your job, you don’t have to move your family.”
Maggioncalda thinks the future of higher education could look a lot like Coursera’s model.
“I think you’re going to see a world shortly where almost all learning, online and on campus, actually happens online.”