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MOOC Operator EdX Solidifies Paywall

edX verified vs. audit track

EdX has gone public with its latest monetization plans. In an effort to develop a "sustainable long-term business model," the MOOC provider has made changes to both its free and paid options for courses. The organization first began testing paywall options last summer.

On the free "audit track" side, participants will be able to view videos, do readings, participate in practice problems and discussion forums and track their progress. But only paid "verified track" students will be able to gain unlimited course access for as long as the class exists on edX. The course and its materials will be closed to audit students once the course has ended. Also, only verified track customers will be able to get graded assessments and verified certificates.

Students on the free side of the program may choose to switch to paid before an "upgrade" deadline in order to take the graded assignments needed for earning the certificate. "As always," the organization emphasized, "financial assistance is available for learners who need it."

The changes won't affect any courses people have enrolled in prior to Dec. 17, 2018.

As reported by MOOC monitor Class Central, the changes on edX will place its paywall "higher than Coursera's," a for-profit company. As for other companies in the MOOC landscape: While Coursera generated an estimated $140 million for 2018, according to Class Central CEO Dhawal Shah, UK competitor FutureLearn "hasn't generated similar returns" from its monetization efforts, which went into place in March 2017. Those two companies differ in their approach, Shah wrote. Coursera has more classes presented by "bigger global brands" than FutureLearn, he suggested, and, perhaps just as important, students can start their classes and earn their certificates at any time. Both edX and FutureLearn run their classes and make certificates available on a schedule.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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