Coursera is a for-profit company, whereas edX is a non-profit collective run mainly by Harvard and MIT, out of Boston but with plenty of help from other universities like UC Berkeley and the UT system. edX is also expanding its partner universities to many across the world and has be growing like mad in the one year it’s been around.
There’s nothing wrong with a for-profit company, to be sure. But the business models are different.
One thing to keep in mind is that pretty much no one at edX expects to replace the traditional university! So far much of the work has been creating university classes in an online format, and many agree that this will likely change over the future.
There’s a new term called a SPOC, a small, private online course. Think MOOC-like tools and technology but refined for a face to face class model. Much of the work with MOOCs is two fold:
1. Simply making knowledge and learning more accessible with a low barrier to entry.
2. Taking models and data from mass learning and using to improve the ways we teach students and really improve university education, which hasn’t changed very much over time.
The benefits of certification, cheap and recognized classes are in many ways secondary.
The goal of edX is NOT to replace a university and this is significant to keep in mind when considering where online education is going.