MOOCs and Regifting

Jim Groom briefly but insightfully runs the numbers on the Georgia Tech / Udacity deal:

Apart from all sorts of misgivings about Georgia Tech’s MOOCish Master’s program in Computer Science, I want to take a moment to do the math. You charge $7000 a year tuition with the idea you’ll have a 2-year cohort of 10,000 students. If you add that up, you get $140 million. That’s massive, especially when you’re only hiring eight new faculty to educate those 10,000 students. Follow the money, this is no joke, the profits are huge even after you split 40% of the kitty with Udacity.

Those are some truly staggering numbers. And just as easy as that, MOOCs are simply the “new” elearning – purportedly less expensive than on-campus instruction, purportedly just as effective, and with the promise of thousands of new students flocking in from around the world driving unimaginable levels of new revenue.

It’s like a national regifting of the 1990s hype around elearning with a giant MOOC-colored bow on top.

8 thoughts on “MOOCs and Regifting”

  1. Darren,
    The 10,000 number is just a projection, but I think they might just hit close to it, quite frankly. How many will stay or be able to handle the program might be another question, but I remain fascinated.

    • Jim,

      You might very well be right. As I try to wrap my head around the implications of this Georgia Tech/Udacity deal, I keep bumping into the fact that they chose to offer a Master’s Degree program first.

      Can you imagine what will happen when a comparable UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM becomes available for this price and at this scale? It seems to me that the role of *public* K12 in preparing students for college would/will immediately shift – from helping students to acquire the SKILLS needed to succeed in college, to helping them acquire the SKILLS while also providing underprivileged students with ACCESS to *college*.

      We all know there exists a percentage of students who are academically prepared for college while in their early years of high school. When we were in high school, we had little choice but to wait out our high school years (possibly earning AP credits along the way). Today’s students are able to take concurrent enrollment courses – or also AP – earning their way to an Associate’s Degree upon high school graduation. When quality undergrad MOOC programs become available, is it really that hard to envision our best high school students also leaving high school with their Bachelor’s?

      Twenty-four year old PhDs will become commonplace.

  2. Not that it changes the ultimate point but is that $14,000 per degree number right? The article says, “Eventually, the program came together for about $6,600 per degree.” They are citing per degree, not per year.

  3. In 2001, I worked for a little company called UNext. Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Chicago School of Business, Columbia, London School of Economics + $280 million in VC to create the ultimate online university. How could it possibly fail? Fast forward 18 months…and…poof.

    There are many, many differences but getting past the initial “irrational exuberance” will tell us a lot about whether this is a viable approach.

  4. Thanks for this David – this last line has it just right. Though I’m shocked to learn how many people outside of this field think this is actually the first time an online master’s in computer science will be offered! Even people who are extremely tech savvy. So maybe 10,000 MOOC colored bows… this time no one can miss ’em.

  5. Point taken, though there may be a flaw in his arithmetic. If I read the press releases correctly, Georgie Tech is charging $7k for the whole degree, which they say will take most students 3 years to complete. And it was a little unclear what their timelime was for enrolling 10k students. I took it to mean over the first few years. So, potentially, a third of the profits he calculated, but massive, nevertheless.

    Robert McGuire

    Editor, MOOC News and Reviews

Comments are closed.