MOOCs: 8 Ways They Can Make Money

MOOCs will transform higher education, they will help create a community of students across the globe and connect experts across academic disciplines. MOOCs are here to stay!  Ok…now how can they make money???

Instructional designers and professionals in the field of educational technology acknowledge that MOOCs will have a large role to play in the future of education and many universities are rushing to launch their own MOOC courses, but nobody has yet figured out how MOOCs will bring in revenue.  The Chronicle of Higher Education obtained a copy of a contractual agreement between Coursera (a leading MOOC platform provider) and a partner institution, which stated that Coursera still did not know how to make a profit with its software.  There are currently eight revenue generating options they can use:

Certification

Secure Assessments

Employee Recruitment

Applicant Screening

Human Tutoring

Selling the Software

Sponsorships

Tuition Fees

1. Certification:  the MOOC platform provider would create badges or certificates that would be purchased by students.  These certificates would certify that the student has obtained a certain level of competence or mastery of a subject.  This format may look similar to the skills badges one posts on their LinkedIn page.

2. Secure Assessments:  this means that the students would pay to have their examinations invigilated, such as through a certified testing location.  This method would also help to authenticate the courses.

3. Employee Recruitment:  companies would pay in order to access a student’s performance records.  If interested in recruiting the student, they would then pay to be able to email them through the MOOC platform.

4. Applicant Screening:  the employers or universities would pay to have the MOOC provider screen students or incoming new employees for a certain level of expertise or understanding.

5. Human Tutoring or assignment marking, here students would pay to receive academic support.  With the extremely high student-to-teacher ratio, and lack of physical presence, it can be near impossible to get help from the instructor.  This would provide academic aid for all students.

6. Selling the Software:  the company that created the MOOC can also choose to sell their product to universities or private institutions who will then use it to run their own online courses or training programs.

7. Sponsorships:  sponsorships could generate revenue by getting 3rd party sponsors to pay for ad space on the platform. (Let’s hope it never comes down to this!)

8. Tuition Fees:  students could be charged tuition fees to be able to access the course’s content.  This is closest to the traditional form of payment, and seems to be the most likely option MOOC platform designers would choose to go with.

MOOC designers such as Coursera have decided to build their platform, gather their supporters through universities and companies, and then figure out a financial plan to generate revenue.  It’s still unclear which of these eight options will be chosen, but one will be chosen shortly because investors will soon be knocking on some doors.

4 Comments

  1. I’m a Learning Designer, and in the midst of participating in a free six-week Coursera MOOC course. It’s fine, but if I had to pay (anything) I wouldn’t have enrolled. Yes it was structured, and yes it had an imperative on getting things done in a timeframe, but there is sooooooo much content available online on most subjects that if you’re motivated you can achieve a similar result that a light-weight MOOC will provide by yourself – in my limited experience.

    Reply
    • Hi Pete,

      I also have enrolled in several MOOC courses, mainly in the field of computer science and programming. It’s very different from the traditional course structure, but my experience in my online graduate program helped me to get accustomed to the differences in approach you need to take to these classes. I also was surprised at the wealth of information out there. I also love being able to connect with other students around the world, and learn through their personal experiences and knowledge.

      I was wondering what course you are currently completing, and if you had any future plans on taking another course?

      Cheers,
      Randy

      Reply
  2. “MOOC designers such as Coursera have decided to build their platform, gather their supporters through universities and companies, and then figure out a financial plan to generate revenue. It’s still unclear which of these eight options will be chosen, but one will be chosen shortly because investors will soon be knocking on some doors”.
    But, universities and colleges can do this themselvers. They don’t need to depend on an outside, revenue-based company to share profits with in order to introduce new and innovative educational instruments. Currently, they have the staff/student knowledge-base, the equipment, buildings, grounds, parent, family, community, and even, government supports, already in place to build their own in-house platforms, raise their own funds from alum, speical donors, corporate gifts and funding, etc., and develop their own administration-developed revenue generating plans, now. They just have to have the will and committment to do this–and the smarts.

    Reply
  3. Will MOOCs like Edx replace computer based testing invigilators like those you see for Microsoft Certification?

    Reply

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