Stephen E. Arnold: Furthering Free and Online Education

Education

Stephen E. Arnold
Stephen E. Arnold

Furthering Free and Online Education

The Washington Post reports on a hot topic in education these days: online education. No, this recent article does not simply feature a rundown of online education courses, it delves into the next step: free online text books. The headline reads: “Coursera to Offer Students Free Online Textbooks, with Conditions.”

Coursera, of course, is one of the online providers offering free educational courses online. Textbooks are a logical next step. The have struck a partnership with several publishers to enable students to use certain textbooks for free while they take the courses. Publishers include Cengage Learning, Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, SAGE and Wiley will be available through e-readers provided by Chegg.

The article states:

“Koller said the agreement will help instructors who felt restricted in what they could require students to read. She also said it will help publishers market full versions of their books to those interested in buying them. Coursera, based in Mountain View, Calif., launched in April 2012, and the company has more than 3 million registered users. Along with edX and Udacity, it is one of the most prominent MOOC providers in a fast-emerging market. Cynthia L. Selfe, an English professor at Ohio State University, said the textbook agreement will benefit thousands who are taking a MOOC on Coursera that she teaches with a group of faculty.”

Does this article suggest that there are more challenges for traditional publishers or is this an opportunity for companies trying to grow and running out of options? The jump from $500 million to $1 billion is a big job.

Megan Feil, June 05, 2013

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