Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) blurring the line between education and content marketing

For the uninitiated, “MOOC” stands for a Massive Open Online Course.

They are similar to university courses, with lectures and reading materials delivered online, included graded quizzes, assignments, tests, and certificates of completion.

MOOCs are offered by a growing number of educational institutions including; Harvard, MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Northwestern University through online channels including EdX and Coursera. Initially offered for free, institutions are increasingly offering fee-based certificate courses, to both cover the cost of content production as well as monetize the value of their programs, while remaining a low-cost alternative to traditional sections. The University of Illinois even offers a full iMBA degree program, which can be completed entirely through the online program at a much lower cost than traditional or executive M.B.A. programs.

I’ve recently been immersed in three MOOCs myself, concentrated on Digital & Social Media Marketing, and Data Analytics – completing my first R-Programming course through Johns Hopkins University/Coursera yesterday. With two degrees acquired the old-fashioned way (B.S. from the University of Memphis and an M.B.A. from the University of North Texas), I have found the MOOC-model to be extremely effective, in terms of instructional quality, convenience, and cost.

Ironically, I’ve experienced greater collaboration through my MOOC in R programming than in any traditional in-class experience, through participation in online forums where fellow-learners post questions, answers, ideas, and general moral support. Below is a snapshot of the “Study Group” forum, showing the sheer diversity of locales represented by course participants.

Study Groups

MOOCs have the potential to be a win-win for learners and universities alike. For an experienced degree-bearing professional, the ability to select specific courses matched to a career objective has great utility. MOOCs also enable schools to extend the reach of their programs to a global market, with tremendous upside potential.

However, institutions entering the arena of MOOC-based education are, by consequence, becoming content marketers, with a need for savvy in the 4C’s of digital marketing, which involves matching content to the education Consumer’s wants and needs, establishing the right Cost for programs, ensuring Convenience for MOOC participants through effective management of user experience, and strong Communication between course administrators, instructors, and students.

Many universities with worthwhile programs lack the resources and experience required to get their programs online and off the ground. Much as a national retailer may turn to an agency of record to assist them with their content marketing strategy, many universities are finding help by turning to firms such as Academic Partnerships which specialize in the conversion of courses to online formats, as well as managing the marketing, enrollment, and strategic partnerships.

While we are still in the early days of the MOOC, the number of institutions and available programs is exploding, and the education landscape will be forever changed.

The Digital Degree

Read full article at the Economist (here)

A funding crisis has created a shortfall that the universities’ brightest brains are struggling to solve. Institutions’ costs are rising, owing to pricey investments in technology, teachers’ salaries and galloping administrative costs. That comes as governments conclude that they can no longer afford to subsidise universities as generously as they used to. American colleges, in particular, are under pressure: some analysts predict mass bankruptcies within two decades.

At the same time, a technological revolution is challenging higher education’s business model. An explosion in online learning, much of it free, means that the knowledge once imparted to a lucky few has been released to anyone with a smartphone or laptop. These financial and technological disruptions coincide with a third great change: whereas universities used to educate only a tiny elite, they are now responsible for training and retraining workers throughout their careers. How will they survive this storm—and what will emerge in their place if they don’t?

Massively Open Online Courses appear to be one answer, with implications for not only universities but businesses as well.

MOOC Numbers

Online Learning: Using Educational Content Marketing to Grow Your Audience

Read full article by Mike Hale (here)

Over the last couple years a new form of education has exploded in popularity: the Massive Open Online Course, or “MOOC”. In an age of lifelong learning, MOOCs are available globally to hundreds of thousands of people at a time, anywhere in the world.

Sites like Coursera, edX and Udacity courses are available globally to hundreds of thousands of people at a time. Coursera alone has attracted more than four million students and over $85 Million in funding.

Big universities aren’t the only ones that can benefit from our thirst for knowledge. Making educational content a part of your content marketing efforts can pay off for any sized-business, especially solopreneurs.

What is educational content?

When most people search online, they’re looking for answers to a specific problem. One common tactic is to create content educate people on those issues.

Visitors to your website don’t care about your products or services. They only care about the current problem they’re trying to solve. The goal of educational content is to teach your audience the subject of what you do, not services you offer. When you can do that, your customers begin to look at you as a trusted resource of information.

Creating educational content for your blog is a good way to grow your audience. There are times where you might want to go beyond the blog post, and provide a higher level of education to your readers.

Emerging Trends in MOOC Delivery of Business Education

Read full article by Colin Nelson here.

the majority of MOOCs are still run by universities or other tertiary-level educational institutions, but a growing number of business-related MOOCs are being offered by institutions for whom academics are a less central focus. Evidence for this trend exists even at the most established MOOC platforms. For example, some of the business-related MOOCs available on the edX platform are delivered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while Coursera hosts a MOOC delivered by economists from the World Bank Group.

Perhaps the most important development, however, is the increasing appearance of MOOC series that can be pursued for relatively low-cost credentialing options (at least when compared to the cost of a degree). EdX, for example, offers XSeries Certificates for completing a series of three to five related MOOCs, such as the Supply Chain Management XSeries of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Coursera likewise offers Specialization Certificates for completing short sequences of four to nine related MOOCs, usually including a capstone project, such as the Business Foundations Specialization of the Wharton School. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is now taking this evolution one step further, announcing the iMBA program, which will allow students to compile multiple Coursera Specialization Certificates into a full MBA degree, presumably at a fraction of the typical cost.

eLearning Trends to Follow in 2015 [Infographic]

By John Lascaris (source)