Of MOOCs and elite college brands

Two different takes on this topic in the last few days from a couple of our favorite observers, one from Kevin Carey and one from University Ventures.

Carey essentially argues that the return on investment elite colleges get from MOOCs is enhanced status (because it promotes warm-fuzzy feeling toward them and customers get to directly engage with their quality content), so maybe they don’t need to worry as much about financial return / MOOC ‘business model.’ Though even if you believe that as a partial explanation of what might sustain MOOCs in the long run, it doesn’t address how the third-party MOOC platforms sustain themselves (unless you believe that it’s the university-funded platforms a la EdX that will be the survivors).

UV argues that MOOC providers should take a page out of Univ of Cape Town / GetSmarter’s book in South Africa, using an elite college brand name to extend into non-competitive online offerings that culminate in certificates of perceived job market value & relevance.

Of course, all of this assumes that there’s rational thinking going on among elite college administrators. To the extent there are signs of rational thinking going on now, it’s mostly of the variety ‘see what happened to that lady down at UVa? yeah, don’t want that to happen to me. think i’ll hop this bandwagon’

Love this dig at NYU – Abu Dhabi, Yale-Singapore, etc. in the Carey piece: “You can open a branch campus overseas, but there are only so many autocratic petro-states to go around.”



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