Monetizing free online courses

08 Nov

By Steffen Schmidt

I recently had lunch with a former student who works for one of the nation’s largest banks. I told her I was considering creating and launching a MOOC, one of those Massive Open (i.e., free) Online Courses.

“Why would a university want to offer free classes and how do you get paid?” the banker, not surprisingly, wanted to know.

MOOCs are proliferating like mushrooms in a damp spring. Some of them have tens of thousands of students from around the world. Many are taught by premier professors from elite universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Columbia.

I am not supposed to use the word “elite” anymore because it is, well, elitist, but I disregard that because it makes no sense. Some universities are MUCH better than others and produce more exciting, accomplished and successful graduates.

But I digress. I’ve been seriously exploring the ins and outs of MOOCs and had several answers on how to develop a business model around this exciting new concept.

First of all, MOOCs are terrific magnets to attract attention and students to an organization or institution. If the Business Record, were to offer a MOOC on, say, the insurance industry, featuring some of Des Moines’ most prominent executives, it’s likely that thousands of people around the world would take this free course. It would pump up and expand the Business Record’s visibility, maximize advertiser hits, create more buzz for Des Moines as an insurance capital and give the city of Des Moines additional visibility.

For universities, the principal hosts of MOOCs, the same principle applies. Visibility and buzz for the institution and also for the department or program that is sponsoring the course.

[ Full article available at Business Record: ]

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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in MOOCs in the News


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