Coursera.org announced an impressive slate of new free courses this week, along with $16 million in venture capital funding. Coursera, which began as a free course initiative at Stanford University, is now offering courses taught by instructors from UC Berkeley, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan, along with Stanford instructors.
Unlike its Silicon Valley neighbor Udacity, that also had its start at Stanford, Coursera is branching out from computer science and technology to include free courses in the humanities and social sciences as well. Some of the new courses start as early as April 23, with other slated to begin in the summer and the fall.
Both Coursera and Udacity are moving beyond the open courseware model of iTunes U and other providers to offer exams, grades and certificates of completion, that for now are all free of charge. It’s unclear how Coursera and Udacity will be able to make money for their investors since all of the courses are free. The Wall Street Journal blog Venture Capital Dispatch mentions the possibility that Coursera may eventually charge for certificates or for job matching.