Online courses have seen their stock rise dramatically over the past couple of years, but one question still lingers—and it’s a big one: can they make any money? Thus far, the answer has been no. Young MOOC upstarts like Coursera and Udacity have been quick to point out that they are at present more focused on establishing a foothold and building up a market rather than generating early positive cash flows. But everyone knows that if they’re to survive and thrive, the cash must flow.
It’s good news, then, that we’re beginning to see the first signs of such a flow emerging. In a blog post last week, Coursera announced that its Signature Track program, which charges students a small fee to have a chance at earning a limited form of credential, has already pulled in $1 million in revenue after less than a year of operation. This is not a lot next to the $65 million the company has raised from investors over the past two years, but it’s a promising first step. As TechCrunch points out, this $1 million came from a mere 25,000 users of a service that has not been particularly well publicized.
Education Week notes that Coursera is already moving to grow these revenues, looking to develop a service that pairs credentialed students with employers who are looking for certain skills. If employers begin to take certifications more seriously as a job qualifications, revenues at these young MOOC startups could grow significantly.