Headline Oct 14, 2014/



DOTCOM  mania was slow in coming to higher education,  but now it has the venerable industry firmly in its grip.

Since the launch just  over two years ago   Udacity  and  Coursera, two Silicon Valley start-ups offering education through  MOOCS:
massive open online courses...........

The ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations.

University brands built in some cases over centuries have been forced to contemplate the possibility that information technology will rapidly make their existing business model obsolete.

Meanwhile the  MOOCs have multiplied in number, resources and students recruitment   -without yet having figured out a business model of their own.

Besides providing  online courses to their own  ( generally for paying )  students, universities have felt obliged to join the  MOOC revolution to avoid being guillotined by it. 

Coursera has formed partnership with  83  universities and colleges around the world, including many of America's top-tier institutions.

Edx, a non-profit MOOC provider founded in May 2012 by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and backed with  $60 million of their money, is now a consortium of  28 institutions-

The most recent joiner being the  Indian Institute of Technology  in Mumbai. Led by the  Open University, which pioneered distance-learning in the  1970s.

FutureLearn, a consortium of  21 British, one Irish and one Australian university, plus other educational bodies, will start offering  MOOCs.

But Oxford and Cambridge remain aloof , refusing to join what a senior Oxford figure fears may be a   ''lemming like rush''   into  MOOCS.      

On July 10, last year, Coursera said it had raised another $43 million in venture capital, on top of the $22 million it banked two years ago.

Although its enrolments have soared, and now exceed  4 million students, this is a huge leap of faith by investors that the firm can develop a viable business model. The new money should allow  Coursera  to build to any advantage it has-

From being a first mover among a rapidly growing number of  MOOC providers. ''It is somewhat entertaining to watch the number of people jumping on board,'' says Daphne Koller, a Stanford professor and co-founder of Coursera. 

She expects it to become one of a  ''very small number of dominant players''.

The industry has similar network economics to Amazon, eBay and Google, says Ms Koller,  in that  ''content producers''  go to where most consumers are, and consumers go to where the most content is.

Simon Nelson, the chief executive of  FutureLearn,  disagrees. ''Anyone who thinks the rules of engagement have already been written by the existing players is massively underestimating the potential of the technology,''  he says.

Certainly, there is plenty of experimentation with business models taking place.

The  MOOCS  themselves may be free, but those behind them think there will be plenty of revenue opportunities.

Coursera has started charging to provide certificates for those who complete its courses and want proof, perhaps for a future employer. It is also starting to license course materials to universities that want to beef up their existing offering. 

However,  it has abandoned for now attempts to help firms recruit employees from among Coursera's students, because catering to the different needs of each employer was   ''not a scalable model'' , says Ms Koller.

The Honour and Serving of this operational research continues. Thank you for reading and see you on the following one.

With respectful dedication to the  Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. See Ya  all  on  !WOW!   -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

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