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The Value of MOOCs to Higher Education

°      Though most MOOCs continue to be free of cost at present, this is unlikely to be true for much longer. The following information about potential ways in which to monetise the platforms was obtained under a freedom of information act addressed to Coursera:

°         Certification (students pay for a badge or certificate); 2. Secure assessments (students pay to have their examinations invigilated); 3. Employee recruitment (companies pay for access to student performance records); 4. Applicant screening (employers/universities pay for access to records to screen applicants); 5. Human tutoring or assignment marking (for which students pay) 6. Selling the MOOC platform to enterprises to use in their own training course; 7. Sponsorships (3rd party sponsors of courses); and 8. Tuition fees.

°      MOOCs are already experimenting with certification and employee recruitment. Businesses interested in offering continued professional development to their staff may find certain courses useful, at present a MOOC-business collaboration appears to be most promising route to monetisation.

°         Many faculty members involved in MOOCs are interested in learning how they could improve the course offerings for their current on-campus students. With tens of thousands of online students, says one MOOC course creator, "you can assign 50,000 students to track A and 50,000 to track B, and then you have enough numbers to tell if a design change [in the course] is making a difference or not - which is very difficult when you have a class of 50 or 60 students that you can't really split into two."

°         Some commentators have indicated that the notional returns offered by the MOOC platform creators to the course creators are not proportional to the skill and effort put into designing the courses. Significant time commitment is required from MOOC course creators, along with the preparedness to experiment with pedagogy and technology. The total amount of video used in each MOOC course varies but is unusually between 33 - 50 hours. The degree to which videos are edited also varies from course to course, and some are direct recordings of campus based classes, others are dedicated recordings, while others still use the chroma key effect to change backgrounds. Some course creators choose to upload lectures lasting 70 minutes, while others edit lectures to bite size chunks ranging from 2 - 15 minutes.