Marisa Keramida (M.Ed.) | eLearningIndustry
It is true that eLearning involves high production costs and MOOCs are offered to learners for free. Then how MOOC providers, institutions and companies generate profit from MOOCs? Unless these institutions find ways to generate some revenue, one would wonder why to enter this business. The purpose of this article is to show you 8 ways that MOOC providers generate revenue from MOOCs, discussing both Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Customer (B2C) potential sources of revenue.
1. 收取授权费用 Charging license fees.
It is a fact that MOOCs consist a new “business” in education. Although they are offered for free to the wider audience, revenue is mainly generated from license fees MOOC providers charge to other educational institutions or companies that they prefer to use their MOOC online content instead of creating their own eLearning content from scratch. MOOCs consist an alternative solution for companies, that may not desire to build their own eLearning platform for various reasons; these reasons may include either not having the necessary resources, monetary or human, or they may decide that it is not cost-effective to do so. Such companies may opt to utilize the services of a MOOC provider.
2. 提供定制化服务 Customization Services.
Customization of the eLearning content of MOOCs to meet the requirements of a particular client may be another source of revenue. The client’s logo may be added or even the MOOC provider may offer the option for a fully customized interface. Τhe MOOC course itself can also be customized, not only in terms of the look-and-feel of the MOOC course, but also in terms of content enrichment for different contexts though adaptation of the online examples and case studies given, in order to reflect the client’s needs and/or values.
3. 升级收费 Selling of upgrades.
Another way to make profit out of MOOCs is through the selling of upgrades and newest versions of MOOCs to existing clients. Given that MOOC courses may be constantly enriched with additional online course material or updated versions of the previous one, additional fees may be charged to the clients who wish to access the updated MOOC version.
4. 配额收费 Charging for every extra MOOC courses created beyond the minimum.
Another way MOOC providers may generate revenue is to give their clients the opportunity to create a limited number of MOOC courses for free and then, to charge for each additional MOOC course they create. This is the usual case, when a customer opts for using the provider’s MOOC platform, instead of launching their own. There is a certain minimum number of MOOC courses you can create for free and then, there is an extra charge for each additional course beyond the minimum.
5. 在线广告与赞助 Online Ads and Sponsorships.
Who doesn’t want to get advertised at a website with millions of targeted audience worldwide? MOOC platforms can generate a great deal of revenue from online advertisements, either in the MOOC platform itself, or within MOOC courses, as each one of the MOOC courses has been designed with a very specific target audience in mind.
6. 猎头服务 Headhunting Services.
It is not uncommon for companies to look for employees in lists of MOOC participants. For many HR departments, a MOOC platform is the ideal place to find the right candidates. This is due to the fact that MOOC participants are perceived by HR departments as ideal candidates, as they are demonstrating in practice that they are self-motivated individuals, actively involved in their personal development process, devoted to their career goals, constantly seeking to improve themselves. For such people, MOOC providers may charge companies a great deal of money in order to provide recruiting services and MOOC rosters that match the selection criteria established by the company that pays for this service.
7. 学分认证 Accreditation.
As far as B2C services are concerned, the first source of revenue for MOOC providers is definitely accreditation services. Credits guarantee that a certain level of competency has been achieved on behalf of the MOOC course participant; as a result, course accreditation is a major source of revenue from MOOC courses. This revenue comes directly from the final consumer, the actual learner of the MOOC course. Although learners have free access to the learning material of the MOOC course, if they also want to gain credits for this MOOC course they attend, they are usually asked to pay a small fee. This fee may significantly increase in case a certification is to be awarded after successful completion of the entire series of MOOC courses. If we consider the number of learners registered to a “Massive” Open Online Course, this might involve thousands of MOOC course participants worldwide. According to a recent study accreditation and certification services consist almost 71% of all the MOOC revenue produced . Coursera is estimated to generate $1M per month just from certifications [2,3].
8. 在线讲师支持 Live Instructor Support.
Last but not least, another important source of B2C revenue for MOOC providers may be LIVE instructor support for the uploaded MOOC courses. Some MOOC courses may also charge a tuition fee in case learners choose to attend an instructor-led MOOC course in order to receive extra support and personalized attendance.
 edSurge (2015), Four Ways Universities Make Money From Online Courses, Retrieved from edSurge on Aug 23th, 2015:https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-07-07-four-ways-universities-make-money-from-online-courses
 Shah Dhawal (2014a), How does Coursera make money?, Retrieved from edSurge on Nov 02nd, 2015: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-10-15-how-does-coursera-make-money
 Shah Dhawal (2014b), Coursera, the largest MOOC provider crosses 10 million students, earns $1M+ in monthly revenues, Retrieved from edSurge on Aug 23th, 2015: https://www.class-central.com/report/coursera-10-million-students/