MOOCs and business models in higher education

A great post from @audreywatters here on the education technology start-up ecosystem. This includes asking what the impact of Venture Cap maybe which is something that makes academics (at least in the UK feel uncomfortable about. Indeed, one argument for the development of the OU’s Futurelearn platform – however, this is still operated as a separate company majority owned by the OU.

Also, worth noting the following quote:

Can we (please!) foster a resurgence of open source in education? This isn’t simply about schools running their own Linux servers either (although I wouldn’t mind that). It’s about supporting open source development — community development, capacity building, technology tinkering, bug fixing, and most importantly perhaps, transparency. Can education startups be leaders in developing and supporting openly licensed materials (code and content), helping wrest education free from the control of proprietary businesses?

Which was shortly followed by the announcement that edX was releasing its MOOC software as open source.

While these developments are taking in place in a context, at least in the UK, of longer-term declining funding for higher education and the response of the sector in reducing its major cost component, people:

made good efficiency savings during the year. The most significant of these savings related to staff costs, which fell in real terms for a second consecutive year in 2011-12

So, one key question on the future of higher education is whether the prominence of MOOCs is leading to the university as an aggregator, mediating the content and technologies of an ecology of academic and technology and content firms – the university as commissioning agency?

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