Economies of Not-so-Scale and Marginal Costs of Not-Quite-Zero

Mike Caulfield, Weblog, Sept 25, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Mike Caulfield nicely reframes one of the main issues regarding MOOCs: "One additional point about the Circuits and Electronics course stats I cited yesterday. Most of the talk about MOOC-scale has been about the number of sign-ups. But that’s the wrong end of the problem. What we care about is cost per completion." Well, let's consider, when you have one or two instructors, a support team, and 7,000 completers, what are the economics of that? Pretty good. "At a million dollars a course, for 7,000 students it’s costing you about $150 a completer." No, the marginal cost isn't zero. But it's better than what we're doing now. And honestly, I can't see courses costing a million dollars per in the long term. Also from Caulfield: "It’s not MOOCs replacing higher education — it’s MOOCs supporting it. It’s not revolution or disruption. It’s synergy."

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