How MOOCs Can Be Free and Profitable at the Same Time

John Swope, Higher Education Strategy Associates, Dec 26, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

MOOCs are necessary, argues the author, because of the competition between institutions. "Universities are highly competitive, and they invest significant money into faculty, facilities, research and now a new loss-leader: MOOCs. These courses offer universities a way to find and recruit high performers." So the question becomes how to make the pay off. But it's the same old set of argements from the days of learning objects. "First, MOOCs are reusable. Whereas the cost of a professor, a lecture hall and other variable expenses must be incurred for each brick-and-mortar class, the cost of a MOOC is incurred one time, up front (with smaller, ongoing maintenance costs), and that content is sold over a longer period of time. Second, MOOCs can utilize a freemium model to keep costs low for most students and upsell students and organizations that want premium features."

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