The shift from a pay-per-course to a subscription model was announced on Coursera’s blog by the company’s chief product officer, Tom Willerer, who previously worked at Netflix.
“By rewarding faster completion, the subscription model will give you a powerful incentive to achieve your goals”
Users can so far subscribe to a handful of Coursera’s more popular Specializations, with subjects including data science and the programming language Python.
More courses will be added over the coming months, according to Willerer.
Course completion rates for MOOCs are traditionally low, but Coursera has seen a higher proportion of its users complete paid-for courses, and is optimistic the shift to subscriptions will boost this rate further.
Both monthly and annual subscriptions will be available, and will typically cost around $39 to $89 per month for a single Specialization.
In a small pilot project, Coursera found that users who paid monthly were around 2.5 times more likely to complete a Specialization than those that paid upfront.
“We believe that, by rewarding faster completion, the subscription model will give you a powerful incentive to achieve your goals,” wrote Willerer.
Users will be able to access all of the course content during their subscription period, and will not be obliged to commit for long periods.
Until now, users have paid from $19 to $99 for individual courses, which are then bundled together in groups of six to eight to form Specializations.
Most courses are available free as MOOCs, but users pay for tutor assistance, assessments and certification.
Specializations have grown massively in popularity since their launch in 2014, and developing this area further is an integral part of Coursera’s growth strategy, its CEO, Rick Levin, told The PIE News in April.
“That’s where most of our revenue comes from now, from people seeking those credentials which are increasingly recognised by employers as worthwhile, and where learners are posting these credentials online,” he said.
Subscriptions are a model already used by French online learning platform OpenClassrooms, which recently announced the launch of its first English taught-degree, also paid for on a monthly basis.