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Coursera FAQs

In July 2012, C21U led the development of Georgia Tech’s strategic partnership with Coursera to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) as a member of the company’s second cohort of prestigious universities. Through this partnership, Georgia Tech joined a small group of highly respected partner universities, including Stanford, Michigan, Princeton, and Caltech, in a bold experiment on the future of higher education. Below you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about this new partnership. If your question is not answered below, please email Mike McCracken, C21U's Director of Online Course Development and Innovation.


Georgia Tech/Coursera Partnership: 

What is Coursera and how can I learn more?

Coursera is an entrepreneurship company that partners with top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. It was founded by two Stanford University computer science professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, in April 2012. As of July 17, 2012, Coursera has partnerships with 16 universities, including GT. Classes offered on Coursera are designed to help students master the material. Students watch lectures taught by world-class professors, learn at their own pace, test their knowledge, and reinforce concepts through interactive exercises. When students join a Coursera course, they are also joining a global community of thousands of students learning alongside them. Visit to learn more.

Where can I watch the video of the Provost's Town Hall on Online Education?

On Thursday, September 13, 2012, the Provost held a Town Hall on Online Education. The video of that event may be viewed on the Provost's website:

Who's Who?: 

What is C21U and what is its role in Coursera?

C21U is the Center for 21st Century Universities, Georgia Tech’s living laboratory for fundamental change in higher education. C21U led the development of Georgia Tech’s strategic partnership with Coursera and may be viewed as the laboratory for learning about MOOCs.

What is PE and what is its role in Coursera?

PE is Georgia Tech's Professional Education division. PE is working with C21U to produce the GT courses offered on Coursera. They provide implementation of the courses, including instructional design, video capture, and advising. Visit the PE website to learn more:

What is CETL and what is its role in Coursera?

CETL is Georgia Tech's Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. CETL enhances the learning and teaching environment at GT by serving primarily as a faculty development center, particularly in areas of educational technology. Visit the CETL website to learn more:

Background on Partnership: 

What is Coursera's business model?

Coursera offers various business models for university partners and has indicated it is considering a range of options for potential new business models.

Has GT made an investment in Coursera?

Georgia Tech is investing in faculty, staff, and administrators’ time to develop courses. We are providing both instructional design and video capture to facilitate Coursera course creation.

Why is GT partnering with Coursera?

Georgia Tech views the partnership with Coursera as an opportunity to remain true to its pledge to define the technological research university of the 21st century by exploring new modes of instruction and operation. What we learn from the Coursera experiment, and other similar experiments, will above all benefit our own students and strengthen our existing programs.

What other institutions are Coursera partners?

As of July 17, 2012, Coursera has partnerships with 16 universities: Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Georgia Tech, Duke, University of Washington, Caltech, Rice, University of Edinburgh, University of Toronto, EPFL-Lausanne (Switzerland), Johns Hopkins University (School of Public Health), University of California–San Francisco, University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, and University of Virginia.

Details About Coursera & Other MOOCs: 

What is a MOOC?

MOOC is an acronym for a Massive Open Online Course designed for a very large enrollment, offered on the World Wide Web by an educational institution and typically free of charge.

Where can I take a MOOC?

There are numerous platforms available that currently offer MOOCs. In addition to Coursera, some of the most well-known sites include Udacity, edX, Kahn Academy, iTunes U, and YouTube EDU.

Online courses have been available for some time now. How is a MOOC different?

The most profound difference is that MOOCs dramatically extend the reach of a course through open enrollment that is available to anyone, anywhere who has access to a computer and the Internet. Also, MOOCs do not require a student to have direct affiliation with a brick and mortar institution and typically do not award credit. Although some traditional online courses are simply for enrichment, most offer credit.

For GT Students & Other Online Learners: 

Is a MOOC right for me, or should I enroll in a traditional online course?

If your primary goal is to increase your knowledge on individual topics and have access to some of the best minds at premier universities in the world, then a MOOC is right for you. If you seek a direct path to a degree, then a traditional online course that offers college credit is likely a better choice. However, the landscape is continually evolving, and many of the current MOOC platforms are exploring options for the future to offer courses leading to a degree.


How do I sign up for a Coursera course?

Visit You simply provide your full name, email address, and then agree to the Terms of Service and Honor Code.

Is technical help available for Coursera courses?

Coursera is available to assist with any technical issues. Students should receive information about available technical support when their class begins.

Can I interact with the GT faculty members who teach courses on Coursera?

Yes, but on a limited basis due to the number of enrollees in these courses. The individual faculty member will determine the degree of interaction.

Other Options: 

How do I sign up for a traditional online course?

Visit the Georgia Tech Professional Education website for registration information.

How do I sign up for a blended learning course?

These courses combine face-to-face classroom experience with online learning activities that may occur before, during, and after a live classroom session. Many Georgia Tech professors incorporate blended learning models in the courses they teach. Reviewing course syllabi and individual faculty websites are the best ways to find blended courses.

For GT Faculty: 

Should I develop a Coursera MOOC or a different online course?

It depends upon which platform best fits your needs and those of your students. In addition to reaching more online learners than a traditional online course, Coursera courses are typically shorter than a semester in length, running 5-10 weeks with 2 hours of "lecture" time per week. For assistance in determining which platform is right for you, Please complete and submit the form at C21U's Mike McCracken will respond to your inquiry.

Why should I consider putting my course online through Coursera?

The technology behind these online courses will continue to evolve rapidly and will provide educational tools and abilities that serve traditional Georgia Tech students in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

What risks and rewards are associated with offering a Coursera MOOC?

There are very few risks associated with Coursera. You will invest time and think more deeply about your courses than you normally would because that is the nature of the medium. The rewards depend entirely on how successful your courses are. Successful professors immediately gain a worldwide following, which enhances your personal brand as well as Georgia Tech's. You gain an enhanced ability to collaborate across institutions (we have already seen novel collaborations appear). By establishing yourself on a global stage you gain the possibility of reaping rewards—professional, monetary, personal—from that recognition. And should Coursera revenue streams arise, you will share personally in those revenues.

Is Coursera replacing traditional ways of offering programs and interacting with students?

No. Coursera is not a replacement for courses offered in a classroom environment or traditional online courses offered by GT.

How does Coursera impact GT's business models?

In the near term, there is no immediate impact. We are learning more about students, their interests, new technology platforms and formats, and how Georgia Tech can create relationships with students beyond the Coursera platform.


What kinds of courses are best for Coursera?

The actual selection of courses is determined by the faculty. Our objective is to showcase GT’s unique and innovative courses, which differentiate us from others. That doesn’t mean a course in biostatistics is not a good course to offer, but in general, standard courses or general ed courses are low on the priority list.

Who owns Coursera course content?

The Coursera agreement does nothing to modify your employment agreement with GT so the exact answer depends on how and for what purpose the course was created. There is a carve-out in the IP definition of the faculty handbook that covers textbook creation and other "normal scholarly duties" and exempts such work from institution IP claims. Whether a Coursera course falls under these exemptions depends on the tests that are defined in the handbook. Even in those cases where the faculty member owns the IP, we are advising that a Creative Commons License (non-commercial, attribution, derivative works permitted) be used in most circumstances to permit the distribution to the widest audience possible. All Coursera material is distributed on a non-exclusive basis, so you continue to have rights as the creator. In practice the faculty member assigns the rights to GTRC and GTRC then licenses the IP to Coursera under a non-exclusive license.

Who markets GT's Coursera courses?

Coursera is responsible for marketing its courses, but it's important to note that all GT offerings on Coursera are branded as Georgia Tech courses.

Do instructors have access to Coursera student data?

The faculty member teaching the Coursera course will have access to only email addresses of enrolled students.

How much communication is there between instructors and Coursera students?

Direct communication will be on a limited basis due to the number of enrollees in these courses. The individual faculty member will determine the degree of interaction. Some faculty plan on having end of the week chat or summary questions as a means of reaching out to the students.


How do I submit a proposal for a Coursera MOOC?

Please complete and submit the form at C21U's Mike McCracken will respond to your inquiry.

Is approval of my MOOC automatic?

The approval process is not automatic. All proposals must be reviewed to ensure that they meet the same standards of quality that GT's traditional curriculum offers.

Does Coursera have to accept my proposal?

No. Coursera has the right to reject any proposal for a new course if it determines the course does not fit their platform model.

Are there export or copyright restrictions I have to be aware of?

Yes. If classes contain export-control information or copyright-protected information, they are not for Coursera. GT will not allow any course to be offered on Coursera if it is not in compliance with GT’s export controls and/or contains copyrighted materials that the professor has not received permission to use. Refer to for details on export control.

If Coursera sells advertising that appears on my course’s pages, where does that revenue go?

For purposes of sharing revenue, Coursera courses are treated like licensed software. GTRC disburses revenues as with any IP revenues that are earned.

I like the tools I’ve used in the past, but I feel pressure to conform to particular tools that GT or Coursera wants me to use. What should I do?

Coursera and its partners are studying which tools are likely to be successful. A primary consideration is scalability. Early feedback is that tools like Piazza do not scale to the numbers of students that are expected, and therefore; their use is discouraged. We are also sensitive to the needs of Coursera students who might be taking several courses, each with its own toolset, and having multiple tools would discourage Coursera use. Finally, data gathering requires some uniformity in data interfaces that are not supported by many third party tools. GT faculty producing courses for Coursera will be an important voice in deciding which tools are best suited to the Coursera environment. A C21U interest group will be established for this purpose.

Won’t Coursera-approved tools lock my content making it more difficult to use the course materials in other settings?

No. The whole point of Coursera's offerings is to encourage openness, so we would not knowingly make decisions to "lock" content and inhibit reuse. As the tools become more mature, import and export systems will make it even easier to move from one system to another. Faculty members are encouraged to propose additional features to Coursera. C21U will review these proposals and fund the most promising additions to the Coursera platform.

Existing Courses : 

Can I repurpose my existing courses for a Coursera MOOC?

Most likely, the answer is yes. Please complete and submit the form at C21U's Mike McCracken will respond to your inquiry.

Who would help me with this process?

C21U's Mike McCracken will work with you in conjunction with GT's Professional Education division. Please complete and submit the form at Mike will respond to your inquiry.

I also offer online courses through GTPE. Won’t Coursera compete with my for-pay courses?

No. Courses faculty develop for Coursera are not a replacement for traditional online courses and never are intended to be competing with our existing and growing on-line offerings through the Department of Professional Education. In some cases, a Coursera course may be a way to augment what you are currently doing today with for-pay on-line courses. Please complete and submit the form at C21U's Mike McCracken will respond to your inquiry. He will consult with you on options that best fit your needs and those of your students.

May I include Coursera material in my on-line PE courses?

In certain situations the materials you develop for Coursera may be applicable to your for-pay on-line courses. These situations should be discussed with the Dean of Professional Education and C21U.

My Resident Students: 

Can my resident students take a Coursera MOOC?

Yes, anyone can sign up for a course on Coursera.

Does T-Square automatically register students in Coursera?

No. Students must visit They provide their full name, email address, and then agree to the Terms of Service and Honor Code.

How do I assign Georgia Tech credit for a Coursera MOOC?

Strictly giving credit for a Coursera course to a student is not being considered at this time. A student could conceivably take a Coursera course and request an examination for advanced standing as described in the GT catalog. A professor may choose to include his/her Coursera content as a part of a standard course offering. In that case, the student will register for the course just as they would for any other course.

Financial Support: 

Is there financial support for building a Coursera course?

Currently, funding sources are under development.

Will GT be adding resources to assist in course development?

Yes. GT is currently developing new methods to support innovation in learning and technology platforms.


Who do I contact if I want to develop a Coursera course?

Please complete and submit the form at C21U's Mike McCracken will respond to your inquiry.

Other Options: 

What are my alternatives?

There are several other options available, including Georgia Tech's own Professional Education division, iTunesU, and YouTube EDU. Please complete and submit the form at C21U's Mike McCracken will respond to your inquiry and discuss available options.

C21U Central Office

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 Ferst Drive NW

Atlanta, GA 30332-0765
Phone: (404) 385-2218

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