REVENUE VS. COSTS OF MOOC PLATFORMS. DISCUSSION OF BUSINESS MODELS FOR XMOOC PROVIDERS, BASED ON EMPIRICAL FINDINGS AND EXPERIENCES DURING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROJECT IMOOX
1 University of Technology Dresden (GERMANY)
2 Graz University of Technology (AUSTRIA)
3 University of Graz (AUSTRIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:For some years the potentials of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in academic education have been discussed with great euphoria (1). An interesting aspect is that the discussion is not only limited to scientific communities, but there are articles about MOOCs in traditional mass media e.g. the Washington Post (2) or the Berliner Zeitung (3).
What are reasons for the “hype” of MOOCs? MOOCs seem to promise answers to long debated questions; questions that have been discussed among researchers as well as people working in education since the spread of e-learning in the late 1990s, concerning the digitalization, democratization, reputation and commercialization of higher education (e.g. Dellarocas & Van Alstyne 2013; Kolowich 2012; Moody’s Investors Service 2012; Ruth 2013; Scharples/ McAndrew/Weller et al. 2013). Policy makers expect extended possibilities of commercial distribution of scientific education from (x)MOOCs. Yet whether these hopes can be fulfilled or not, cannot be assessed at present. At the moment there is no evidence regarding the economic potential of these new educational formats. Therefore solid research work has to be carried out. This publication will strongly focus on financial aspects of xMOOC platforms. We aim to address the following research question: How can xMOOC-platforms operate in a sustainable way?
Based on a solid document analysis (Mayring 2002, 2003) of available literature different business models of established xMOOC platforms (e.g. Coursera, Udacity, edX, Iversity, iMooX) have been compared. It can be shown that for example most providers do not accumulate only a number of isolated xMOOCs on their platforms, rather they concatenate several xMOOCs (e.g. Coursera (4)) in order to offer programs of higher quality. Udacity offers even a master program in cooperation with AT&T and Georgia Institute of Technology (5). Furthermore it can be stated that business activities of investigated xMOOC providers are mostly financed by private and public risk investments and revenues from fee-based services. For example, AT&T finances the joint master’s degree program of Udacity and Georgia Institute of Technology with USD $ 2 Million (6). In order to achieve revenues, platform providers, for example, offer a certificate after passing an exam in class or online (7),(8). Finally the findings are taken and compared with the experiences of the implementation of the xMOOC platform “iMooX” (9) in Austria. Cost factors for the development of MOOCs as well as the implementation of a technical infrastructure (platform) are identified and compared.
It can be finally summarized that a cost model for a long term provision for a xMOOC platform is not a simple task.
 E.g. http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/can-moocs-help-professors-teach-traditional-courses-more-efficiently/53851