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:
Selling the Software
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.