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Pilot programme brings e-textbooks to MOOCs

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Coursera, which provides massive open online courses (MOOCs), has announced a pilot programme with several top higher education publishers to expand the availability of their content and resources. This will be facilitated by the student hub Chegg.

In the pilot, Cengage Learning, Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, SAGE, and Wiley will experiment with offering to Coursera students, at no cost for the duration of the course, versions of their e-textbooks. These will be delivered via Chegg’s DRM-protected e-Reader. Coursera said that it is also actively discussing pilot agreements and related alliances with Springer and additional publishers.

According to the company, 'the importance of rigorously-developed pedagogical resources to learning outcomes has been well documented, and today’s announcement will link Coursera’s content to this enhanced learning process'.

The announcement should enable professors teaching Coursera's courses to provide an even wider variety of carefully curated teaching and learning materials at no cost to the student in addition to the content that is currently freely available on the web.

There are expected to be benefits for the publishers involved too. In addition to gaining insight into worldwide usage data, they will be able sell full versions of their e-textbooks to students for continued personal learning.

'We recognise the importance of forging partnerships with other stakeholders in the education space in order to help students overcome barriers and evolve the way they access education. By collaborating with publishers, we are able to provide access to some of the world's best resources to Coursera students, supporting our goal of learning without limits,' said Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera.