CAN IT CANNIBALIZE A SCHOOL’S EXISTING PROGRAMS?
Levin downplays the possibility that this new specialization could cannibalize the school’s more traditional, on-campus offerings. “So far, the reality has proven to be just the opposite,” said Levin. “You reach a wider audience, including people who would never have access to your existing programs. The great majority of learners are people who don’t have the means or the opportunity to leave their countries or jobs and do these programs on campus. And the actual set of existing programs has been positive rather than negative because the wide global attention it brings has generated a lot of leads and hence a lot of revenue to our partners. The revenue they get from lead generation through Coursera courses far exceed their revenue from the courses directly.”
The new specialization also changes the way Wharton will deliver its Fundamental Series. “In the old format, the courses ran in fixed sessions,” added Levin. “In the new format, they are offered on demand at any time. So students can choose the sequence and the timing. This is another innovation we came up with in the last few months which has resulted in a boost in the number of people taking the courses. They can take two at a time, binge them over a weekend or spread it out over a longer period of time.”
Currently there are no time limits on when a student must complete a course, but Coursera typically gives participants six months.
Levin said that the Wharton courses will continue to be available for free on an individual basis, without a certificate of completion. “We are committed to the idea that the basic content is available for free,” he told Poets&Quants. “To get the specialization certificate and the capstone, you have to pay for it. The fees are very low compared to the value created for our learners.”
He did not disclose the revenue share with Wharton for the new specialization.
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