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American MOOC Providers Face International Competition

Although talk of providers of MOOCs, or massive open online courses, has centered mostly on American companies and nonprofit organizations like Coursera and edX, MOOC platforms in other countries have made it clear that they are also looking to stake a claim in this growing realm of higher education.

Japan’s answer to Coursera and edX, Schoo, announced this week that is had raised $1.5-million from venture-capital firms, including Itochu Technology Ventures, the Anri Fund, and the Incubate Fund. Offering more than 130 courses, Schoo is aimed at a Japanese audience of mainly office workers in their late 20s and early 30s. Although it has only 40,000 users now, the company says it hopes to have more than a million students by the end of 2013.

Meanwhile, edX has a partnership with only one Japanese university, Kyoto University, while Coursera has yet to form any partnerships in the country.

Like Schoo, many American MOOC providers have raised large sums of money. Coursera has raised more than $22-million, and Udacity, the MOOC provider started by Sebastian Thrun of Stanford University, has raised more than $15-million.

However, those companies may begin to see competition from international providers. Some of them are:

  • Open2Study (Australia): Open2Study has partnerships with eight Australian universities and offers courses on such as topics nutrition, anthropology, and business.
  • Veduca (Brazil): Veduca was the first MOOC provider in Latin America, and it curates publicly available educational videos from universities like the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard and Columbia Universities, adding subtitles in Portuguese. The company also offered the first Latin America-based MOOC from the University of São Paulo.
  • FutureLearn (Britain): FutureLearn has partnerships with 22 universities in Britain, as well as one in Australia and one in Ireland. Partners in Britain include the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol, East Anglia, Exeter, Leeds, Southampton, and Warwick, as well as Cardiff and Lancaster Universities, Queen’s University Belfast, and King’s College London.
  • iversity (Germany): iversity offers 10 courses in a variety of topics, including art studies, economics, and chemistry. It recently ran a contest for professors and others interested in creating and offering massive open online courses, promising a prize of 25,000 euros to each of 10 winners.
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