Overview[edit | edit source]

"How will this course pay for itself?" is probably the most common question when the subject of MOOCs are discussed. Despite the many providers, platforms and courses, the answer to this question is still unclear.  Some commentators (e.g. Christensen & Weise 2014) even suggest that MOOCs and business models are not compatible and the big providers are likely to move away from the Massive and Open aspects of the MOOC model in their search for sustainability. 

However on a course by course basis the following options can be considered when seeking to establish a sustainable course:

  1. Integrate with existing teaching so costs are already covered.
  2. Promote related conventional courses, sell related text books, reach out to alumni so costs are covered by the promotion provided.
  3. General adverts, course sponsors and/or funding agencies.
  4. Sell the participant data to potential employers, recruitment angencies (see below).
  5. Charge students (for extra resources, related apps, supporting textbooks, extra support, exclusive tutorials, assessment, certification, credits).
  6. License the course to other educators/companies.

See the table below for an overview of how 3 leading MOOC platform providers might consider generating revenue.


Privacy and participant data

There are concerns about how some MOOC providers/platforms are using participant data and sharing these details with 3rd parties e.g. sponsors, potential employers, marketing agencies, etc. What do you think about this and would this influence your choice of platform?

Breaking news...

23rd April 2015 - Arizona State University is to offer first year of university entirely through MOOCs at a much lower cost (Straumsheim 2015).

Activity[edit | edit source]

In your groups, outline a sustainability strategy for your course, taking into account the following points:

  • How much is needed for one implementation of the course
  • Will it cost the same every year?
  • Where will the funding come from?
  • Will you need to write a proposal?
  • Is this realistic?

Share your plans in the online workspace

Resources[edit | edit source]