Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The sale of FutureLearn can be explained by the "distorted economic model of MOOCs," says Martin Weller. "In this universities provide free content to another platform, for learners to study for free... with no firm business model (We're selling certificates! We're selling data! We're selling microcredentials! We're selling vocational pathways!) this becomes unsustainable." Yeah. If you think the purpose of MOOCs is to make money then the economics seems pretty silly. But I will note that this was never the original intent, at least on my side. The whole point was to offer free learning. The original cMOOC model was developed in a way to make this a cooperative and hence affordable enough approach to be funded as a public service. Of course it was distorted by universities and get-rich-quick charlatans. But the core economic model of MOOCs is free learning - and that makes the best economic sense for any society, if not for the people who wish to profit off it.

Oh, and as for MOOCs destroying universities: it has only been 14 years. Give it time. The idea of freely accessible learning based on open source platforms and cooperative learning communities is a much more powerful force than you might think.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Dec 07, 2022 2:49 p.m.