The University of London has recently declared its MOOC business model a success. Is it really?
The University has offered four MOOCs to an unlimited number of students, and attracted 210,000 people from 160 countries.
Barney Grainger, acadaemic project manager for University of London International Programmes, says: “…we have received, at this point, 45 expressions of interest in our degree courses from students who have taken one of our MOOCs.”
He adds: “The fact that there is a conversion from MOOC learning to seeking full degrees would indicate that our outlay on these MOOCs has, in fact, been justified. Our learning journey has commenced, and the MOOC business model can work,” Grainger says.
Let’s see: 45 out of 210,000 = .000214, or 2.1 per 10,000. And we are only talking about leads, not conversions. No magazine subscription or mail order catalog campaign would call that rate of response a success.
But what is a success in MOOCville?
Let’s first consider the Georgia Tech model, where the all MOOC masters degree program in computer science costs $7,000. Forty-five actual students (not ‘requests for information) would generate $315,000 in revenues. Not much, but the marginal cost of the next student = $0. So much depends on scale-up.
Suppose instead these prospective students enroll in costly F2F on-campus programs with fixed costs already sunk, thus adding little marginal cost per student.