1. Recruiting and bolstered reputation

“Cornell faculty in a number of fields report that a substantial online presence (not necessarily from MOOCs) is important for recruiting excellent students,” notes the report. “Online courses can have an outreach or public relations goal, providing an avenue for broadly enriching society and promoting Cornell’s reputation.”

The committee also noted that high-quality online courses help to broadly advertise faculty and their research, and “may lead to improved application rates. These outreach efforts strengthen visibility among peer departments, and may indirectly yield advantages even in recruiting top faculty.”

2. Enhanced professional learning

“MOOCs may provide a valuable service to students, offering a path to enhanced professional credentials (for example, via eCornell programs) or to academic credit (for example, in classes offered during Cornell summer and winter sessions),” explains the report.

3. Lower costs for attendees

“Because MOOCs have substantially lower per-attendee costs than traditional classroom teaching, some argue that a revolution in education has started, in which such online courses profoundly change how people learn,” says the report.

The report details that MOOCs at other institutions rely on different sources than traditional revenue. For example, the course may be free, but one can pay for an ID-verified certificate of completion. MOOC consortia can also generate revenue by displaying advertisements, or licensing MOOCs to degree-granting institutions.

“It is noteworthy that eCornell, Cornell’s solely owned company which charges a participant fee for its courses, has recently been returning funds ($1M annually) to the university which help to support online ventures,” says the report.

(Next page: Cons)