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See which colleges and universities are paving the way in analyzing business models for MOOCs

An increasing number of colleges and universities are offering MOOCs, but few have crunched the numbers to determine whether these online courses can succeed as a business proposition. Where return-on-investment conversations are happening, they generally aren’t leading to comprehensive analysis.

Some institutions, however, are paving the way in their attempts to analyze the potential of MOOCs as a business model.

Online education providers say university and college clients considering developing MOOCs as a long-term strategy need to think about the economies of scale gained and how long courses can last before the content gets out of date.

It won’t quite be describable as a MOOC at first. But that’s one direction that Georgia Tech’s College of Computing can imagine going with its soon-to-be-rolled-out online master’s program, which will start as a pilot in January.

The program has received national attention in part because of a $2 million investment from AT&T—and because Georgia Tech is charging only $6,600 in tuition, compared to $45,000 that traditional master’s students from out-of-state would pay.

Unlike MOOCs, lecture capture platforms are used widely in for-credit courses. Providers of the technology have built in many accessibility features in the past several years.

Lecture capture platforms designed by Echo360, Panopto, and Sonic Foundry, for instance, can all accommodate human-generated closed captions, and are compatible with screen-reading software used by students with visual impairments. Students who cannot use a mouse can use keyboard commands to navigate the platforms.

Panopto's lecture capture platform, like many others, includes captions for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The technological revolution sweeping higher education may not be carrying all students with it equally. MOOCs, lecture capture, and other digital platforms are being designed with varying degrees of accessibility for students with mobility restrictions, hearing and visual impairments, and learning disabilities.

Rhe concept of leveraging MOOCs as a data-rich marketing vehicle is new but gaining a foothold

The exploding popularity of MOOCs is beginning to open up a mother lode of data about prospective students that colleges and universities can use for marketing and recruitment purposes.

MOOCs are still in their infancy stages, and the concept of leveraging their reach as a data-rich marketing vehicle for the institution is even newer. But it’s beginning to gain a foothold.

There’s no shortage of options for administrators to consider when looking to make decisions from MOOC enrollment data. Here are some ideas suggested by Sam Burgio and Rick Tomlinson, of Jenzabar; Katie Blot and Jarl Jonas, of Blackboard; and Caitlin Garrett, of Rapid Insight:

Syracuse University, which has offered MOOCs in data science and librarianship, has used CourseSites to download user information and export it into Excel.

The Syracuse data science MOOC was designed principally to showcase the school’s new certificate of advanced study in the field, says Peggy M. Brown, director of instructional design and an adjunct professor in the School of Information Studies.

Officials at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio have developed a MOOC consistent with its mission as a two-year school that provides developmental education, particularly in math, to get prospective students up to speed.

Using collaborative marketing, contracting, and course development strategies, colleges are redefining online education.

Before 2012, students who wanted to pursue an online degree at one of Florida’s public colleges or universities would have to navigate through a maze of websites, trying to cobble together a set of classes that would meet the requirements for their program.

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