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Penn reaches 2.3 million students, plans to offer 20 more courses

The University of Pennsylvania has announced that through its open learning initiative, it has enrolled 2.3 million students from more than 200 countries so far. About 90,000 statements of accomplishment have been granted to date via the Coursera platform.

Penn is an investor in Coursera’s $43 million Series B round. 

An enrollment of 2.3 million students is impressive, considering that Coursera’s nearest competitor, edX, has the same number of students. edX boasts more than 200 courses, while Penn currently offers just over 30 courses. Udacity, on the other hand, has 1.3 million students and 46 courses.

Penn and Coursera

 20 more courses in the pipeline 

Penn is one of the four original university partners of Coursera (Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Princeton being the other three). Penn is also the second-largest university–behind Johns Hopkins–on Coursera, based on its number of online course offerings. With 20 more courses in the pipeline, it might well become the largest.

So how does Penn benefit from opening its doors to the entire world? Two words: Signature Track. The Signature Track option through Coursera enables students to use identity verification technology, such as face recognition and typing pattern analyses, to prove that they completed all the coursework themselves. The payoff is a verified certificate for the course, which is a more official document than the statement of accomplishment.

Wharton Prof. David Bell reported that more than 10,000 students signed up for the Signature Track for his Intro to Marketing course. At $49 apiece, that’s half a million dollars in revenue from one course. According to documents obtained by The Chronicle, a Coursera partner might expect to get 6 percent to 15 percent of gross revenues and 20 percent of gross profits. Penn certainly believes in MOOCs and the Coursera platform, since Penn is also an investor in Coursera’s $43 million Series B round.

One Year of Open Learning at Penn