Is Coursera Facebook, Amazon, or Pets.com?

Michael Feldstein, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Nov 16, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Interesting (and accurate) take on the 'innovation' brought to the field by Coursera and the other xMOOCs. "It’s an uncomfortable truth for educational folks," writes Michael Feldstein, "that one of the principal innovations of the xMOOC is the store front. It is the ability to find courses in a catalog. If you look at what Coursera is right now from a platform perspective, it is primarily a store front on top of an LMS." Given this, where will Cousera and the rest move in the future. Feldstein suggests three directions:

  • Facebook - "the platform gains value primarily not from the content but from the people in the network."
  • Amazon - "the main value of the store front is as…well…a store front. It is a sales channel."
  • Pets.com - "store front as a stand-alone for-profit company is a passing fad."

I think there may be additional business models: as a histing service, for example, as a cloud service for institutions, even as an extension of advertising and marketing. But yeah, if you take the view that MOOC services are store-fronts, this is basically your list of business models.

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