I had the privilege to attend MIT’s Learning International Networks Consortium (LINC) 2013 conference from June 16 – 19th. […] One topic, above all others, continues to resonate with me. […] One of the attendees suggested that the MOOC (massive open online course) is a form of neocolonialism to the developing world. This means western educators presuppose a priority on what should be taught, what should be learned, and what forms “the” context of a given subject; MOOCs are the 21st century vehicle for spreading that presupposition to the world. It means that the first-world professors, instructional designers, and platform providers control not only the content learned by people worldwide, but more importantly, the ideologies spread through that learning.
An analysis by David Kernohan (JISC) of what it means under the terms of Coursera to provide learning materials not offered under a Creative Commons license. One of the conclusions (being a warning for university boards who are considering offering MOOC's):
"For all the benefits that openly licensed and third-party materials offer, my suspicion is that the perceived value of learner analytics to the major MOOC platforms will mean a continued emphasis on bespoke, university-created content to maximize data collection. Such content is expensive to create and maintain, and sustained investment in content should be a cause for concern for institutional managers – especially as there is as yet little evidence that MOOCs attract learners to apply to the institutions in question."
DOTCOM mania was slow in coming to higher education, but now it has the venerable industry firmly in its grip. Since the launch early last year of Udacity and...
Robert Schuwer's insight:
Yet another article on business models behind MOOC's. Some remarkable quotes:
"Rob Lytle (...) says firms like Pearson (...) that run educational businesses such as textbook-publishing may thrive by offering free MOOCs as a way to get people to buy their related paid content". Will they connect this with universities for the content or will they do this as a new player in the field next to universities? If the latter: how about quality and trust?
"But Anant Agarwal, the boss of EdX, reckons the MOOC providers will be more like online airline-booking services, expanding the market by improving the customer experience.". An odd comparison: the actual experience is in the flight itself and not in the booking process and this flight is not changed at all. What has changed is the variety of in-flight services with the rise of the low-fare companies, but I would not call that an improvement of the customer experience.
"Doug Becker (...) reckons that many established universities will soon offer credits towards their degrees for those who complete MOOCs. He thinks this will drive a dramatic reduction in the price of a traditional higher education, that will reduce the total revenues of existing providers by far more than the revenue gained by the start-ups. Still, if MOOCs reduce the cost of higher education by one-third, as he predicts, yet only earn for themselves 1% of that benefit, that would “still be a very nice business,” he says." Maybe in the US, but also true in other parts of the world???
A look inside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's $472-million (so far) effort to rewire higher education.
Robert Schuwer's insight:
A long article about the Gates Foundation and its plan to reform HE in the US. A lot of criticism on this plan: no need for so many graduates (in one of the comments), an engineering approach to HE without an educational viewpoint taken into account.
Business models named (actually, it is about models for earnings and not about business models) are: paying for certificates, matching between companies and students, providing deeper details of students to companies, matching students who did not complete a MOOC with traditonal online programs, offering paid services like tutoring (that could also be one of the services other universities could offer, if the content would be open in the 4R sense and would not bear a NC-clause in their license), more robust assessments (not for free), extended networking with fellow learners, paid events for learners.
I wonder if most of these options really would generate the amounts of money that are named in the article. The 20% fee of a starting salary for a headhunter means doing a lot more than just match using the data. Headhunters typically also have individual talks and act as a first filter before handing over candidates to the employer. And with more and more MOOC-platforms coming up, the amount of students per MOOC will certainly reduce, making most of the options (that assume massive amounts of learners per course) only generating marginal sums of money.
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