On 17th December 2018, the non-profit online education provider edX announced the introduction of a new pricing model involving some changes to the platform's free (audit track) and paid (verified track) options. The main differences are that students no longer have free access to an individual course for an unlimited period of time and now need to upgrade to the paid track to gain access to graded assessments.
Free Audit Track
Students who choose the free (audit) track will only have access to the course materials for the duration of the course which can be found on the course About Page. After the course ends free users won’t be able to access the course content. Additionally, this track no longer gives access to any graded assignments.
Students will be given the option to upgrade to the paid verified track by a given deadline if they wish to take the graded assignments and earn a certificate. Financial assistance will be available for learners who need it.
Paid Verified Track
This track gives students unlimited access to all course materials including the graded assignments required to earn a certificate. The fee to enrol in the verified track can be found on the course About Page.
Existing audit track enrollments
Students who are currently enrolled on a fee audit track will not be affected by these changes and will still be able to access all content in any course(s) they enrolled in prior to December 17, 2018.
Why are edX introducing a paywall?
EdX's decision to introduce a paywall is an effort to achieve long-term sustainability and to continue to provide affordable high-quality education to all. In a blog post, edX CEO Anant Agarwal wrote "We wanted to strike a balance of moving edX towards financial sustainability while maintaining a robust level of free access." He explains that "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."
For more information, see edX's blog post and FAQ page.