UC Online Courses Fail to Lure Outsiders," San Francicso Chronicle.
UCLA's "Reboot" with MOOCs extravaganza begins right about now. Here are a few questions I'd like to see answered.
1. Whether for-profit or not (e.g. Coursera vs. Udacity), offering free online courses generates no revenue. 10*0 = 500*0 = 2,700,000*0 = 0. There's great politics here but not a business model. What are your core revenue sources?
2. A recent piece in the New York Times suggests that Coursera's main revenues now come from click-through sales of college products and selling information about test results to potential employers. Is this correct?
3. Assuming (1) and (2) don't financially support the massive, open teaching operation you envision--or won't attract investors looking for multiples on their capital--is your main revenue plan to provide online courses to existing universities for their enrolled students?
4. If (3) is true, what share of the development costs and course revenues will you take? One number we have heard is 50% of course tuition for 7 years. The NYT article has an even higher number. Since you use salaried university faculty to create course content, so far, it appears, without pay, are you going to wind up in the business of selling universities their own courses back to them at a big production markup?
5. Given substantial costs for quality on-line development and operation, how exactly will you save money for students enrolled in degree courses (who are already paying tuition)? Given enrollment problems with MOOCs that aren't free, on what basis can you say that you will save universities money? What is your estimate of how much?
6. Public universities have always been trying to synthesize broad
access and top quality, with ever-decreasing funds. What is the
concrete evidence that MOOCs can improve or simply maintain educational
quality in a time when graduates need a higher order of creativity than
7. You have generated excitement about MOOCs by claiming that they will expand access and lower costs while maintaining or increasing educational quality. The only way you can lower costs is by making more teaching and support staff redundant. Have you thought through the extent to which your PR's main effects have been to make academic labor even more precarious and encourage public officials to make additional budget cuts?
7 hours ago