Straighterline Wants To Help Professors Expand Reach, While Students Save

Ann McClure's picture

Burck Smith is so far making good on his vision for revamping the way people pay for and complete college courses. His startup company, Straighterline, enables students to pay $99 a month for introductory college courses — and potentially save tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

In November, Smith will embark on another disruptive tack in online higher education. His Baltimore company will allow college professors to pitch their own courses through Straighterline, and even set their own prices above a minimum threshold.

The long-term vision, Smith said, is to empower professors — from lecturers to the tenured — to customize Straighterline courses and create an online platform where thousands of students can buy their college education— much like an eBay for college learning.

"Some professors might be better than others," said Smith, whose company is based in downtown Baltimore. "The idea is the student has those choices. It's really an experiment in creating a marketplace for professors and students to meet up."

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