There were two interesting announcements this week about “specializations.” Most people know Coursera, but Academic Partnerships is the biggest company in the space and few people have heard of it. They do a nice job of partnering with schools (and being advocates) without using their names as examples. I don’t know the numbers, but I in terms of both number of partners and revenue I think they are the leader in the space.
Coursera is planning to offer certificates for students who take a set combination of MOOCs and pass the assessment. The minimum number of MOOCs would be three, with other certificates requiring up to eight MOOCs. The certificates will be awarded by ‘leading universities.’ One of the first specializations open for enrollment is from Vanderbilt and the University of Maryland on making Android apps. A Coursera specialization certificate will require students to verify their identity and pay on a per-course basis, usually $49 per course.
Most people will know about Coursera, but Academic Partnerships may be less well known, but is still a significant player in the higher education world of the USA. Its is a private company that ’assists universities in converting their traditional degree programs and certificates into an online format, recruits qualified students, and supports enrolled students through graduation’. It works particularly with prestigious U.S. institutions that often were slow into credit-based online learning, or those that wish to keep the online learning activity at somewhat arms-length from their campus activities, but usually to increase enrollments and/or revenues.