“Edupreneurs” and MOOCs are two recent external trends on the rise. Edupreneurs are entrepreneurs who are looking to transform higher education by using technology to lower cost and enhance learning. Many of the edupreneur companies share a similar mission and strategic plan as Ashford University by providing affordable and easily accessible learning to a large population of students using technology and education. The most well-known edupreneurs are the massively open online course (MOOC) companies.
There are four leading MOOC providers: edX, Khan Academy, Coursera, and Udacity. edX and Khan Academy are non-profit organizations operating under funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and universities like Harvard. Coursera and Udacity are both for-profits that are innovating business models to provide MOOCs to colleges for credit (Lepi, 2013).
Recently, Udacity announced its partnership with San Jose State University (SJSU) to provide two lower-level math courses. As part of their support, Udacity will be providing full time online mentors to help students with classroom assignments. Mentors answer approximately 30 questions a day, and when multiple students share confusion, feedback is provided to course instructors (Lewin, 2013).
Other eduprenuerial companies include 2U, Inc. and the Minerva Project. 2U, Inc. was founded in 2008 and partners with universities to provide web-based programs. 2U, Inc.’s instructional designers work with faculty to evolve courses making improvements as learning patterns emerge. In 2013 2U, Inc. was name one of the 10 Startups Changing the World by Forbes.com (Pozin, 2012). The Minerva Project, founded by former CEO of Snapfish Bob Nelson, aims to be the Ivy League of online universities. Minerva will provide a hybrid approach to the online university and traditional college setting with students living in dormitories across the world, but attending class online. Minerva is not scheduled to open until fall 2015 (Barshay, 2013).