Updates To Our Platform: Achieving Long-Term Sustainability

Earlier this year, we shared that we were going to be experimenting with various approaches to support a sustainable long-term business model for edX. I encourage you to re-visit the blog we posted about this for more background on our decision. In order to continue to drive forward our mission of providing affordable access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere, we need to have a business model that supports our platform, partners, and content.  During this time of experimentation, we consulted our partners, board of directors, university advisory board, and you, our learners, in order to determine the best path forward for edX.

We also made a commitment to be open and transparent with you as we embarked on this journey. Today, we are pleased to announce we have decided on a model that we feel will best drive edX forward while staying true to our mission, and we want to give you an update on some changes you’ll see on our platform.

We have made some changes to our free (audit track) and paid (verified track) options in a course. Any course you are currently enrolled in will not change. In future courses you enroll in, you will encounter these two updated options. Choose the one that best fits your learning needs:

Image outlines features of verified and audit tracks on edxPaid or Verified track

With this track, you will have access to all course materials including graded assignments, which we use to assess your knowledge of the subject area and determine whether you’ve mastered the material to earn a certificate. You will have unlimited access to this course material (as long as it exists on edX) to keep on learning, and brush up on what you’ve learned at any time. You will pay a fee when you select this track, which allows us to work with our partners to fund the running of the course, grade your work, and award you a certificate upon successful completion. You can add the certificate to your LinkedIn profile or resume, or in certain cases stack it towards a larger credential, such as a Professional Certificate or MicroMasters®  program.

Free or Audit track

With this track, you will have access to all course materials except graded assignments and, given this, you do not earn a verified certificate the end of the course. You will be able to access this content for the expected course length that you see on the course About Page (as an example, 6 weeks). After this duration, you will no longer be able to access that course material.

If you decide that you do want to earn the certificate, you can pay to switch to the verified track by the upgrade deadline and take the graded assignments required to earn the certificate. As always, financial assistance will be abundant and easily accessible for learners who need it.

How did we land on this path forward?

We wanted to strike a balance of moving edX towards financial sustainability while maintaining a robust level of free access. The fee that you pay when you select the verified track allows for your assessments to be graded at the high integrity level necessary for edX and our partners to award certificates, credentials, and, in some cases, academic credit for your hard work. In addition, the fees fund our platform development, grow our financial assistance program, and allow the research and the development of technology to improve your learning experience.

We’re proud to stay true to our mission to provide access to high-quality educational content from the best institutions that is accessible to all. As a non-profit, our financial focus has always been to become self-sustaining, earning as much revenue as we need to further our mission, but not to make as much money as we can.

We’re sure you have questions

And we’re here to answer them. We’ve included some of your most likely questions below, but please find a full FAQ page here.

Q: Will this change affect my existing enrollments?

A: Your existing audit track enrollments will not be affected. You’ll still be able to access all content in any course(s) you enrolled in prior to December 17, 2018.

Q: How long can I access a course in the audit track?

A: You’ll see a banner within the course showing the expiration date:

banner showing the audit upgrade messagingYou have access for the estimated course length (found on the course About Page). The time limit starts at the course start date or the learners enrollment date.

Q: Does upgrading to the verified track extend my access to the course?

A: Upgrading to the verified track will give you access to all materials, including graded assignments, until the course end date. Upgrading will not change or extend the course end date. You’ll still need to pass the course before it ends in order to earn a certificate. After the course end date, as a verified learner, you will have access to archived course content and materials (as long it exists on edX). For more information about archived courses, see this Help Center article.