EdX Tweaks its Business Model

Interesting to read Lindsay McKenzie’s recent Inside HigherEd article about EdX, which more closely analyses the potential relationship between MOOCs and OPMs.

For the record, CAPDM agrees that MOOCS should be open and free to all, and disagrees with the recent emergence of paywalls for assessment and retained access to courses. This article suggests EdX are about to make the same tinker with the MOOC business model’ mistake as FutureLearn has done. It hints of an executive management team struggling with their strategic planning.

OPMs have to focus about making serious amounts of money from delivering good quality education online to “beyond-classroom” volumes of students. This is so these programmes can become sustainable and then profitable, enabling further investment in similar success. In doing this they face multiple challenges, not least the classic cultural one about adopting distance learning pedagogy and business models within an institution or department.

Beyond this purely commercial focus though, there is the strategic need for institutions to build new domains of relatively unique knowledge, and repositories of reusable didactic contents that feed off them. Doing this takes a technologically qualified executive planning team with an appreciation of digital information management; directorial support for taking a long-term perspective; and a capability to invest in a strategic commitment to reusable, single-source publishing of teaching and learning materials, and their ongoing maintenance. Such new domains and repositories can become highly valuable assets for institutions. They can be used to underpin the production of MOOCS but more usefully, the production of all blended and distance learning materials used on-campus and online at the same time. One master; many uses.

This “information management paradigm” is one that seems to gain little attention in the ongoing debate of the potential value of MOOCs and OPMs. In our opinion it is the ‘missing-link’ that helps justify and focus all MOOC, OPM and online distance learning efforts.

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