Professors typically don’t worry about what price point a course will sell at, or what amenities might attract a student to pick one course over another. But a new online platform, Professor Direct, lets instructors determine not only how much to charge for such courses, but also how much time they want to devote to services like office hours, online tutorials, and responding to students’ e-mails.
The new service is run by StraighterLine, a company that offers online, self-paced introductory courses. Unlike massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, StraighterLine’s courses aren’t free. But tuition is lower than what traditional colleges typically charge—the company calls its pricing “ultra-affordable.” A handful of colleges accept StraighterLine courses for transfer credit.
Instructors who offer courses on Professor Direct will be able to essentially set their own sticker prices, as long as they are higher than the company’s base price. One professor teaching an online mathematics course with a base price of $49, for example, plans to charge $99. For each student who signs up, the company will pocket the $49 base price, and the professor gets the remaining $50.