July BYU IS OCW Update

Two exciting bits of news from the ongoing BYU Independent Study OCW trial. There’ll be loads more data / graphs / etc. in our presentation at Open Ed 2009 next week.

First, things seem to be remarkably stable on the “conversion to paying customers” side of the study. Out of 9179 visitors to the OCW site, 270 have become paying customers of BYU IS (that’s 2.94%). This number is sticking right around 3%.

Second, the final cost data for converting BYU IS courses to OCW have come in. As you may recall, there are three high school courses and three university courses in the trial. Our strategy was to create automated transforms to do most of the work of reformatting courses for publication in BYU IS OCW, and do as little “by-hand” clean up as possible. (BYU IS owns the IP in its online courses, so there is no IP scrubbing to do.) Consequently, the first HS and the first university course have rather high conversion costs – because we billed the creation of the transformation scripts to the first course in each area. The course conversion costs are remarkably low:

High School Courses
GOVT 45: $5,204
EARTH 41: $1,204
GEOG 41: $1,142

University Courses
TMA 150: $3,485
BUS M 418: $320
SFL 110: $248

As a comparison point, MIT OCW estimates a cost of approximately $15,000 per course to publish syllabi and other materials used in teaching on-campus MIT classes. In contrast, the BYU IS OCW courses are complete courses designed from the beginning for online learning. With the transforms written and used a few times, we now know what it would cost if the decision were made to release more BYU IS courses as OCW in the future: about $1150 per high school course and about $250 per university course.

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