Coursera Partners with Chegg and Publishers to Offer Students Free Textbooks During its Courses

Friday, May 10, 2013

Online learning startup Coursera on Wednesday announced a partnership with Chegg, a student hub for various educational tools and materials, as well as five publishers to offer students free textbooks during their courses. Professors teaching courses on Coursera have previously only been able to assign content freely available on the Web, but as of today they will also be able to provide an even wider variety of curated teaching and learning materials at no cost to the student.

The high-quality educational content, as the company puts it, consists of eTextbooks and supplementary materials will be delivered via Chegg’s DRM-protected eReader. The DRM limitation will allow for the content to be offered gratis only during the duration of the course.

The list of participating publishers includes Cengage Learning, Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, Sage, and Wiley. This is the first time these publishers have made a commitment to online education of Coursera’s caliber.

How did Coursera manage to convince them come on board? The massive open online course (MOOC) provider is offering them at least two deals: the insight into worldwide usage data, as well as the option to sell full versions of their eTextbooks to students for continued personal learning.

“We recognize the importance of forging partnerships with other stakeholders in the education space in order to help students overcome barriers and evolve the way they access education,” Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller said in a statement. “By collaborating with Chegg, Cengage, Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, Sage, and Wiley, we are able to provide access to some of the world’s best resources to Coursera students, supporting our goal of learning without limits.”

Coursera has recently been pushing the boundaries of its courses-for-all mission. While the startup started by collaborating with top universities to offer students courses for free online, at the start of this month it partnered with 12 top professional development programs and schools of education to open up training and development courses to teachers worldwide.

Yet just a week later, Coursera is pushing forward once again. By providing students who previously might not have had easy access to textbooks, it is once again above and beyond what some might consider good enough to be labelled as “free education.”