Coursera announced its entrance into the Brazilian / Portuguese MOOC market through partnerships with the University of São Paulo (USP), the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), the Lemann Foundation and the web portal R7.
Brazil represents Coursera’s fifth largest user base behind the US, India, China and UK.
USP and UNICAMP will both create courses for Coursera in the fields of finance and entrepreneurship which will be available in 2015. In the meantime Coursera’s global translator community is working on the localization of 28 courses, being available by the end of this year. Besides coordinating these translation efforts, the Lemann Foundation is also creating teacher professional development courses for K-12 teachers.
Obviously Coursera is not entering uncharted territory, nevertheless Coursera states in the accompanying press release that it is
“the first open online education provider to partner with Brazil’s top universities”
and at least TheNextWeb swallowed the bait. Long before Coursera even got interested in Latin America, the local MOOC platform Veduca had started out by translating popular courses from leading universities in Portuguese. In June of last year Veduca announced a partnership with USP, creating two courses with certification in Basic Physics and Probability & Statistics.
In October Veduca then announced the world’s first open online MBA in Engineering and Innovation with the option to gain an official certification validated by the Brazilian Ministry of Education.
Today both USP and UNICAMP host MOOCs on Veduca with USP offering already 26 courses and UNICAMP five.
Given the relatively small amount of funding Veduca raised compared to Coursera, $1.25 million vs. $85 million, Veduca will face some stiff competition in the coming years. I always pointed out that Veduca has an advantage on the technology side with two patents related to MOOCs and that it is primarily a tech startup, not an education startup. Interestingly, Coursera’s co-founder Daphne Koller now describes her startup the same way.
The partnership deals also show that universities still tend to not wanting to commit to just one MOOC provider, a trend we saw early on with Coursera and edX which both signed partnerships with (the same) leading universities.
For now nothing is decided. There is still a huge portion of Brazilians who are not connected to the Internet. Veduca has the advantage of a working certification process through partnerships with test centers and its focus on specialized courses catering to Brazilian key industries. Yet, the partnership with R7, a popular web portal in Brazil, could drive more interest to Coursera, especially among first time Internet users who are often using web portals to navigate and search the Internet.
Disclosure: Our supporter Macmillan Digital Education is an investor in Veduca.
- University of Sao Paulo (USP) and State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) Join Coursera as First University Partners in Latin America to Create Online Courses for Portuguese Speakers in Brazil and Around the World | Press Release
- Olá! Coursera Partners With Top Latin American Institutions | Coursera Blog