There is no denying the gaudy statistics surrounding Coursera’s rapid ascent to be the world’s leading MOOC platform little more than a year since opening its virtual doors, The Australian reports. Enrollments of 3.5 million, 70 of the world’s best universities on four continents as partners, 374 courses ranging from archaeology to finance to medicine, not to mention more than $20 million dollars in venture capital. Coursera was born at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley. But its biggest convert may well be the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. … In the short term, Penn is MOOCing itself to enhance its reputation and to project its brand globally. Penn may be a household name among the east coast establishment, but it doesn’t have the sports star power of UCLA nor the global veneration of Harvard. It is hard to quantify the real branding benefit for Penn but the right marketing question to ask might be: how much would a university of 24,000 students be willing to pay to guarantee 1 million prospective customers try its products? How much would Penn have to pay to search for and find the very top sliver of those customers worldwide, students of such potential that they could well thrive on its campus?
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