Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Super Prez

Jonathan Rees, a history prof somewhere in Colorado, has gotten rather more than his 15 minutes as an anti-MOOC blogger. He apparently coined the phrase "super professor" for those who taught MOOC courses, evidently considering the term derogatory. He has been predicting the demise of the MOOC for a couple of years now, but they roll on, despite considerable uncertainty about exactly how they are going to be monetized.

The NYT has an interview with Richard C. Levin, former president of Yale and the new CEO of Coursera, the biggest of the MOOCs, a for profit enterprise. He steps gingerly around the issue, but the holy grail of the MOOC enterprise is credit for MOOC courses. Currently, Coursera offers something called "Signature Track certificates."

Q. You’re an economist. How do you get from here to there?

A. Right now courses are free and we’re charging for certification. We think that as the idea of using Coursera courses for professional advancement grows, the numbers seeking certificates will grow. And the price we charge probably can grow, too. A move from $50 or $60 for Signature Track to $100 is certainly imaginable. At $100 a pop, if you had two or three, or five million people. ...

If employers start taking them seriously...

There is a hint that he is putting his money where his mouth is.

Q. When you were at Yale your base pay was in excess of $1 million a year. Are you taking a pay cut to come to Coursera?

A. I don’t want to talk about my personal package. It’s a startup.

I interpret that as saying he has a piece of the action...