Financing and Development of MOOCs

4.1. What benefits do MOOCs bring, and what profits can be made?

4.1.1. In universities

For a university which decides to replace its conventional teaching units with MOOCs, the financial return is not clear: a MOOC is more demanding in terms of workload than the corresponding conventional unit, except in the case of large cohorts and repetitive teaching, at least three consecutive years according to our estimations.

The use of MOOCs in the flipped-classroom methodology requires a huge amount of human resources – at least for the first round of the MOOC. Thus, a MOOC is only likely to break even if it is repeated multiple times and has a large number of participants. It is only undergraduate courses and a few bottleneck degrees which might be able to generate a return on investment because, in this latter case, MOOCs can prevent the need to open additional facilities. When the MOOC is free, and there is no primary intention to use it internally for mass teaching or a refresher course, it will either be financed philanthropically or by taking the money away from a budget line other than education (communication, international action, etc.). For a university, reintegrating students from a MOOC back into classicformat courses by putting them through a paying conventional final exam may be another way to recoup some of the costs of developing the MOOC.

We may envisage paying enrollments, as operated by Udacity. Selling off-the-shelf courses to less reputable ...

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