Coursera is inviting its students to opt-in to a services that matches job seekers to job opportunities. Employers pay for this service and Corsera's academic partners will receive a share of these fees.
Why do students enrol in the free online courses that are currently available in great abundance - in many cases they are hoping to improve their prospects of getting a rewarding job.
Coursera has now announced that it has already been piloting a recruiting service that connects passionate and committed Coursera students with positions that match their skills and interests with encouraging results.
Coursera says it is working with companies like Facebook, Twitter, AppDirect and TrialPay but it hasn't disclosed how many employers it has recruited nor how much they pay by way of a fee. As far as students are concerned they can opt-in for free by uploading a resume to and filling in a form on the Coursera Career Services site that is currently in beta.
The arrangement is also optional on the part of the colleges who provide Coursera courses - they can opt out of the scheme is they wish to do so. According to Coursera's co-founder Professor Andrew Ng in an interview with The Chronicle:
"Some universities are still thinking it through, so not all have said yes," Andrew Ng, of Coursera, said in an interview on Tuesday. "I don't think anyone said, 'No now and no in the future,'" he added. "This is a relatively uncontroversial business model that most of our university partners are excited about."
Ng also explained how the procedure works:
A participating employer is given a list of students who meet its requirements, usually the best-performing students in a certain geographic area. If the company is interested in one of those students, then Coursera sends an e-mail to the student asking whether he or she would be interested in being introduced to that company. The company pays a flat fee to Coursera for each introduction, and the college offering the course gets a percentage of that revenue, typically between 6 and 15 percent.
Although acting as a recruitment agency might prove lucrative for Coursera. Ng told The Chronicle that its largest source of revenue will probably come from selling certificates, something that it hasn't done so far but plans to start doing so in the coming months.
Udacity, on the other hand, has stated that it expects to derive significant income from employment match making and in the first instance contacted students with the very best grades to discover if they would be interested in submitting their resumes to be shared with selected employers. Initially Udacity's Career Placement Program had 12 employers and now, according to its blog has
over 400 companies interested in hiring Udacity students; from tech startups to Fortune 500s including: Google, Bank of America, Facebook, Bu.mp and Greylock Venture Partners.
Udacians, as its students call themselves, are invited to submit their resumees by email and upload them on their Student Profile pages.
It's not just outstanding grades that will given Courserians and Udacians an advantage in the jobs market. They are also being judged by their contributions to discussion forums. This gives potential employers an insight into "soft skills" that are important in teamwork and in fitting in in the workplace.
One thing that successful completion of a MOOC course signifies is motivation and commitment. If you haven't tried a Udacity or Coursera course yourself you might imagine it's just a matter of watching videos and guessing the answers of multiple choice questions. Not so - it's a matter of putting in a hundred or more hours of study and tackling assignments that test not only what you've been taught but also ask you to apply that knowledge and extrapolate to new situations.
Yes, there may be ways to cheat the system which is why potential employers may be more impressed by soft skills than by absolute marks. But just getting to the end of a course such as Udacitiy's AI Class, Andrew Ng's Machine Learning or the MIT/edX Electronics Course has to be considered a major achievement and worthy of inclusion on a person's CV.