Harvard University will offer one online computer science course in three different ways this semester, allowing students to choose from options that drastically vary in price.
With its Introduction to Computer Science course, Harvard is taking a crack and what it hopes may lead to a sustainable business model.
The course now comes in three flavors: a completely free MOOC, a moderately-priced certified hybrid course, and the pricier full Harvard course.
The MOOC version of the course is offered through HarvardX, Harvard’s division of the nonprofit MOOC platform edX. Like many edX MOOCs, those who successfully complete the self-paced course will receive a personalized certificate.
While completely free, the certificate carries no college credit or traditional value within the institution.
Students wanting a certificate with a little more recognition can pay $350 to participate in a “blended” version of the course that combines aspects of the MOOC with facets of more traditional online learning.
“For this fee-based option you interact with teaching assistants in discussion forums, participate in virtual group office hours with the instructor, and work towards earning a passing score on nine problem sets,” edX said.
The certificate is coupled with a $350 tuition voucher for the Harvard University Extension School, turning the course into a sort-of promotional coupon for the university’s continuing studies program.