StraighterLine only contracts with people who hold master's or doctoral degrees in the fields they are teaching. Udemy does not require academic credentials to establish expertise. At StraighterLine, students can convert courses into college credit.
"You're getting paid as a sales associate," says Sarah Tidwell, whose English course will launch on StraighterLine in January, in Inside Higher Ed. So how much can a freelance instructor make? Udemy's 10 most popular teachers split $1.6 million during their first year lecturing in cyberspace, the article reports. The article doesn't say how much--or little--less popular professors took in.
How promising an opportunity is this for entrepreneurial academics? It likely depends on the attractiveness of the cyberprofessor's wares in this literal marketplace of ideas. How many people want to learn the subject? How good a learning experience does the teacher provide? How strong a reputation can she or he develop? How good is his or her marketing?
These aren't questions that academics usually consider in evaluating their career prospects. But in the expanding world of online learning, where some courses have already attracted hundreds of thousands of students, the possibilities for the most successful teachers could be very large indeed.