Over the next few months, Coursera plans to double its employees to about 100, and expand in several areas, including mobile apps and its Signature Track offerings, which charge a fee to students who want an identity-verified certificate upon successful completion of Coursera’s free courses. Since January, when the Signature Track option was first offered in five courses, Signature Track fees have produced more than $800,000, Ms. Koller said — and in the long run, she said, such revenue may be enough to make the company sustainable.
The young company already works with 83 institutions across four continents, offering 400 courses to around 4 million students. Most of these courses are free, but Coursera has found ways to make piecemeal profits. The Signature Track offers students the chance to receive certificates of a course’s completion at $30—$100 a course. Launched in January, the track had 10,000 students enrolled and was generating $500,000 in revenue, as of May. An Amazon.com affiliates program pays Coursera if users buy books suggested by professors. And the company is also looking into matchmaking between students and employers. Employers looking for students with certain skills (or those who’ve taken certain courses) would pay Coursera a fee to identify them.Anxious professors should resolve themselves to the fact that, more likely than not, MOOCs are here to stay.