Coursera’s recent $43 million in funding is evidence of the quick expansion and increasing relevance of online education and MOOCs. Since it was founded in April 2012, Coursera has been growing rapidly, moving from 4 university partners to over 80 institutional partners today.
The new investors include the International Finance Corporation, the investment arm of the World Bank, and Laureate Education, an international higher education company with dozens of profit-making universities around the world, as well as GSV Capital, Learn Capital and Yuri Milner, an individual entrepreneur.
“We hope it’s enough money to get us to profitability,’’ said Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera. “We haven’t really focused yet on when that might be.’’
Over the next few months, Coursera plans to double its employees to about 100, and expand in several areas, including mobile apps and its Signature Track offerings, which charge a fee to students who want an identity-verified certificate upon successful completion of Coursera’s free courses. Since January, when the Signature Track option was first offered in five courses, Signature Track fees have produced more than $800,000, Ms. Koller said — and in the long run, she said, such revenue may be enough to make the company sustainable.
The company also plans to invest in international expansion, through localization, translation and distribution partnerships, and techniques for blended learning, in which Coursera’s online materials are used alongside classroom sessions with a professor.
“We see great potential for using some of the Coursera materials in our universities, so there is a strategic element to this investment,’’ said Douglas L. Becker, chairman and chief executive officer of Laureate. “The I.F.C. made the largest education investment they ever made in Laureate, and they’re joining us in this investment. Coursera allows us to invest in something we see as a rising technology impacting higher education, and gives us access to their content and curriculum.”
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