Note: the differentiator between free and paid is access to faculty.
The talking-head-in-a-box is reduced to marketing in this freemium equation. This reflects the business model of a lot of the smaller, specialised online schools.
Users can test out the program by taking some courses for free and earning specialization certificates. Then, they’ll decide whether they want to pursue additional classes—which include direct contact with the university faculty—for the full degree, at a cost of $20,000 (less than either an on-campus degree or a traditional online degree).
In the Source Thesis, we investigate why the power of the student-teacher relationship is undervalued in online education, and why the scale levers that online promises sell increasing irrelevant content as the platforms push farther afield.
Does the price point of $20,000 indicates they're competing on price within the same target market? A university degree, only slightly cheaper?