Why Online Education Won’t Kill Your Campus

Career College Central summary:

  • Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, have been heralded as a savior for students disadvantaged by an inefficient, often rigid, and increasingly pricey higher ed system. The cost advantage of recording one lecture and broadcasting it to thousands of students regardless of location is undeniable. And the potential social benefits are huge. Andrew Ng, founder of leading MOOC-maker Coursera, said in a recent interview with Fortune he hopes the flexibility and practicality of free courses on-demand will make "a great education a fundamental human right."
  • The top three MOOC-makers — Coursera, Udacity, and EdX — all appear on the cusp of convincing major institutions to offer some of their courses for credit. But all that fretting may be premature: The MOOC business model seems to have a few issues of its own. Take, for example, a recent competition put on by Boston consultancy Fuld & Company, in which business school students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Dartmouth College, and Northwestern University staged a "war game" between the education world's power-players du jour: Coursera, land-grant institution University of Florida, web-savvy New England school Southern New Hampshire University, and for-profit behemoth University of Phoenix. The winner of the $5,000 grand prize was the team that presented the best plan for the future of higher education, and the best strategy to make money from it. Coursera, despite being easily the sexiest company at the competition, did not take home the grand prize.
  • The problem: the business model. "Wondering how they could monetize this technology, that was a big concern," says Fuld & Co. founder and president Leonard Fuld. The team proposed providing a variety of online courses, and then making money by charging universities.

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FORTUNE

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