How MOOCs are evolving with video technology

By Ari Bixhorn
September 4th, 2013

Crack open most massive open online courses (MOOCs) today and you’ll typically find three things – MOOC course documents (syllabi, eTextbooks, calendars), interactive elements (discussions, wikis, assignments, quizzes), and video lectures.


Analysts predict that by 2016 lecture capture will become as ubiquitous as eMail on campuses.

Video is critical, not only because it distinguishes MOOCs from earlier text-heavy open courseware initiatives, but also because the video lecture is the medium that allows MOOCs to bring a high fidelity in-class experience to massive audiences online.

Yet amid the MOOC hype cycle, the issue of cost-effective video capture has largely been ignored. Most MOOCs remain agnostic on the topic, leaving the video choice to their member institutions.

For many participating universities, this “bring your own video” approach is unnecessarily ratcheting up their MOOC costs.

For example, the University of Pennsylvania recently cited video as one of the top contributors to an $800,000 price tag for developing 16 MOOC courses. European universities at a recent MOOC conference cited similar costs ranging from €30,000 – €50,000 per course.

At these prices, participating in MOOCs at scale could increasingly become untenable for many institutions.

But why has video been such a major component of these costs? The answer lies in the approach many institutions have taken – filming MOOC-specific versions of their lectures in production-quality studios.

These studios require investments in specialized and expensive recording equipment, professional AV and post-production services, as well as additional time and training for instructors.

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