Background and definition
- Venture capital (rise of the xMOOC), huge enrolments, breathless editorials and Davos panels…
- Backlash: Some criticisms are valid (xMOOCs are a conservative pedagogical tool, impersonal, even nihilistic). Other criticisms are more complicated (drop-out rates, or who is responsible when MOOCs crash and burn)…
- Quality of MOOC experience varies widely
- Average cost to mount a Coursera course – direct costs estimated by Penn as $50,000 per course; estimates of total expense closer to $75,000-$100,000
- Duke estimates “Over 600 hours of effort were required to build and deliver the course, including more than 420 hours of effort by the instructor”
edX: [For “self-serve model”] edX will collect the first $50,000 generated by the course, or $10,000 for each recurring course. The organization and the university partner will each get 50 percent of all revenue beyond that threshold. …[For a “supported model”] the organization charges a base rate of $250,000 for each new course, plus $50,000 for each time a course is offered for an additional term.
Coursera’s “Possible Monetization Strategies”: “Coursera is following an approach popular among Silicon Valley start-ups: Build fast and worry about money later. …When and if money does come in, the universities will get 6 to 15 percent of the revenue, depending on how long they offer the course (and thus how long Coursera has to profit from it). The institutions will also get 20 percent of the gross profits, after accounting for costs and previous revenue paid. That means the company gets the vast majority of the cash flow.”
Perhaps easier to grasp in notion of MOOC as “loss leader”. Dave Cormier points to example of eCornell using free courses to steer students toward paid programs, and University of Edinburgh using Coursera courses to attract up to 10,000 students to its paid programs.
“Left behind” syndrome
- McGill reels as painful budget cuts begin, yet will be spending significant money on MOOCs
- Students who need support may also be left behind
“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
— Ernest Hemingway
Critiques on MOOCs acknowledged, clearly, “the internet is happening to higher education” – George Siemens.
- Funding to California system for accredited Udacity MOOCs
- edX announces option of proctored exam testing through collaboration with Pearson VUE
Higher ed unlikely to disappear altogether (although some seem unduly excited at the prospect), but easy to envision a future with highly disrupted funding models, expectations, scope… Institutions will likely need to demonstrate special value to survive.
UPDATE (March 2013):
Legislation will be introduced in the California Senate on Wednesday that could reshape higher education by requiring the state’s public colleges and universities to give credit for faculty-approved online courses taken by students unable to register for oversubscribed classes on campus.If it passes, as seems likely, it would be the first time that state legislators have instructed public universities to grant credit for courses that were not their own — including those taught by a private vendor, not by a college or university.