Stanford Seeking MOOC Market Share Through Open edX

Stanford, one of the top universities in the world, has been an incubator for talent in the online education marketplace, but now the school would like to be a leader itself.

Massive open online course (MOOC) provider Coursera’s brand is better-known in online ed and has grown at a rapid pace — including having Stanford as a partner. But due to Stanford’s prestige, it might find more success using Open edX, writesSteve Kolowich from the Chronicle Of Higher Education.

“Now Stanford is looking to reclaim some leadership in the MOOC movement from the private companies down the street. For some of its offerings it has started using Open edX, the open-source platform developed by edX, an East Coast nonprofit provider of MOOCs. And Stanford is marshaling its resources and brainpower to improve its own online infrastructure.”

The fact that the MOOC companies have seen such substantial growth in a short period of time shows the popularity of online education. It also proves that providers do not need buildings and expensive campuses in order to provide a high quality education, calling into question the traditional model colleges and universities rely on — and increasingly charge more money for.

Stanford is making a large investment in Open edX so that it can provide the best MOOCs available and to provide the online modules of 33 courses it offers on campus. By blending the campus courses with online modules, Stanford can keep costs lower and deliver a more comprehensive education.

Currently Stanford only offers 4 courses on its Open edX platform compared to 10 courses on Coursera — and the students that it has attracted to its non-Coursera courses were mostly recruited from the Coursera platform. As the number of Open edX courses increase, MOOC enrollment should rise even further.

“And although Stanford’s non-Coursera MOOCs have each drawn tens of thousands of registrants—32,000 in “Writing in the Sciences,” 21,000 in “Statistics in Medicine,” 41,000 in “How to Learn Math”—the university has relied on the mailing lists for courses it has offered through Coursera for recruiting, says Ms. Manning.”

Reaching a diverse student population is a goal for Stanford’s online education initiative, and by offering an alternative to Coursera courses, a greater number and broader range of students have  another way to continue their education for free.