Yesterday Coursera announced that they will be introducing a “signature track” for students who want their certification verified. By signing up, Coursera will do its best to verify that you, are the real you, based on your photo, “Signature Phrase”, and typing patterns.
Of course there will also be a slight fee for this certification — $30-$100. The entire procedure is an admirable effort for Coursera to keep up with edX’s and Udacity’s proctored exams. I commend Coursera for using typing pattern recognition algorithms rather than traditional testing centers, but in general, I don’t agree with the decision to move in this direction for generating revenue.
Additionally, the “signature track” has a few flaws right off the bat:
- Certification does not count for college credit (yet…)
- The typing verification does not prove that the person typing is also the person answering the questions
- The $100 option is not much cheaper than a local community college
Although Coursera doesn’t plan to stop offering free classes, this move looks like more of the same. Charging for fees for classes just moves Coursera closer to the business model of traditional schools. More troubling is that this is not the “disruptive” change I had hoped and expected from MOOCs.
Critics may call me a hypocrite for not offering a better solution, but I’d probably be working for Coursera myself if I had one. Hopefully I’ll come up with such genius ideas after my Innovations class; or perhaps this blog itself is my effort to “try to stop creative people“.
For now, the following classes have the “Signature Track” option:
- Computational Investing
- Microeconomics Principles
- Clinical Problem Solving
- Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
- Introduction to Genetics and Evolution