coursera contract with the university of tennessee system

Following last week’s announcements of new contracts between Coursera and a whole host of public institutions (coverage at IHE, CHE, NYTimes), I requested a copy of the contract signed between the UT System and the online MOOC provider. Tennessee has a public records act, which I mentioned in the email asking to see the contract. When I opened my email this morning, there it was. (Thank goodness for sunshine laws and the temporary good sense behind them.)

I have only skimmed it thus far, but I’m putting it up here for others to read. I’ll come back with more of my thoughts on the contract once I’ve had a chance to read it more closely.

A couple of notes of explanation:

  1. The contract reveals the extent to which Coursera is looking for new opportunities to leverage its Platform (videos with embedded quizzes and a discussion forum — is that really a platform?). This contract is quite different, at least in the stated goals of the System, from others we’ve seen, like the one signed by the University of Kentucky system.

  2. This contract was signed by the University of Tennessee system, which includes five campuses: UT Chattanooga, UT Martin, the UT Space Institute (Tullahoma), UT Health Science Center (Memphis), and UT Knoxville. The UT System is governed by a Board of Trustees. There is a second system in the state called the Board of Regents system, which includes campuses like East Tennessee State University. The Board of Regents system has also signed a contract with Coursera, though I don’t know how much it differs from this one.

  3. The contract covers an 18-month period during which UT will evaluate Coursera’s platform as an alternative to its current online course technology provider (which I believe is Blackboard Connect). Thus, we’re talking about implementing two courses with multiple sections across campuses. I have a problem with that from the start house. Speaking of which, my favorite quote thus far…

The Platform will support cross-institutional simultaneous enrollment at Institution in a single-class instance to allow for the creation of larger cohorts.

So, without further ado, here it is: Coursera Contract

Please leave any thoughts in the comments below, or on twitter, where I am @parezcoydigo.

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Associate Professor of Early Latin America Department of History University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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One comment on “coursera contract with the university of tennessee system
  1. […] the same sloppiness is embedded in the design of the Coursera learning platform. As Alex Usher and others have noted, Coursera just announced to the world their service is essentially an LMS. If […]

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Chad Black

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I, your humble contributor, am Chad Black. You can also find me on the web here.
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