MOOC Providers Exploring Business-Focused Courses for a Fee


As online courses pick up in popularity and effectiveness, MOOC developers are partnering with business schools to offer business training to executives on a range of topics from cybersecurity to marketing.

The move allows MBA and business school students access to additional business-related knowledge, free of charge, and offers learning technology companies a second avenue with which to pursue additional students.

Currently, these online specialists offer businesses online content specifically for their company as well as additional services, such as the ability to create their own content for a fee.

HR research firm Bersin by Deloitte said the corporate training market is a $70 billion industry in the US.  In a survey done by the firm, 44% of training companies said they are beginning to use MOOCs.

EdX, Coursera, and Udemy are among the businesses to offer these MOOCs as a customizable corporate program that are created with university assistance.

This move is just one of many that are propelling the MOOC into the world of fee-based learning.  EdX is one of the pioneers beginning to explore the fee-paying market.

The company ran a pilot course earlier this year on big data that enrolled 3,500 people from over 2,000 organizations, including Microsoft.  The course grossed about $1.7 million.

The company is also creating a series of courses for executives that come with price tags of up to $1,249.  The courses may also be licensed for use by institutions, and completion certificates may also be purchased by those who pass the course.

In a sign that MOOCs are being taken seriously, two years ago, the University of Texas System invested $5 million in edX in an effort to raise graduation rates and reduce student costs, with an additional $1.5 million invested for course development. Last month, Texas candidate for governor Greg Abbott asked colleges to offer credit for completion of Mooc courses.

Udemy for Business was launched in 2013, allowing businesses the ability to license content for a $29-per-user monthly fee, or a $15 per-person monthly fee will allow the customization of courses on the Udemy platform.

Coursera, known for its free course content offerings, has recently hired Kurt Apen as their first chief marketing officer, in an effort to reposition themselves in the ever-changing online education field.  Apen previously worked for the Walt Disney Company and eBay Inc.

Apen’s position with Disney focused on building the “global mass market audiences for the company’s social and mobile free-to-play games,” which happens to be a current trend in education technology.

In its first move toward fee-based learning, the company recently launched a series of 18 new Specializations, allowing students to complete vocational training online through distance learning, complete real-life projects and purchase a completion certificate to show to perspective employers.  Eight of the courses are business-related, take four weeks to complete and $300 for the certificate, placing Coursera in direct competition with business schools.

“We are increasingly seeing companies and hiring managers recognize verified certificates as a positive signal on a job candidate’s resume,” Daphne Koller, Coursera president, told BusinessBecause.

Not everyone feels this way.  Senior associate dean of executive education at the McDonough School of Business, Paul Almeida, said:

“Especially for premium executive degrees, I really don’t think MOOCs will even make the slightest bit of difference.”