Coursera to offer students free online textbooks, with conditions

Nick Anderson, Mediterranean Marine Science, May 09, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Of course it was always the case that Coursera would ultimately make a deal with publishers (if not actually be acquired by them). Here is the first act: "Coursera... announced Wednesday a partnership with several publishers to provide portions of certain textbooks free for students to use while they take the courses. The course materials — from publishers including Cengage Learning, Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, SAGE and Wiley — would be available through e-readers from the student-services company Chegg." Sounds good - but it's just portions, and even more uselessly, "MOOC students would not be able to print or download the free texts available through the deal." Here's another report, from PaidContent.org, which makes it clear the intent is to sell students stuff, not make it available for free. Here's the Coursera announcement (blog post version). And of course Audrey Watters is right on it. She observes (correctly) "What was a promise for free-range, connected, open-ended learning online, MOOCs are becoming something else altogether. Locked-down. DRM'd. Publisher and profit friendly. Offered via a closed portal, not via the open Web."

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