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July 30, 2012


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James Grimmelmann

Here's a possible way things will proceed:

(1) Coursera, Udacity, and edX flame out having burnt through their capital with very little revenue to show for it.
(2) Individual professors and amateurs produce their own online higher educational materials at an accelerating pace.
(3) Students who might have enrolled in traditional higher education programs increasingly turn to these bottom-up free alternatives.
(4) Someone figures out how to monetize this bottom-up outpouring of materials by providing additional services to creators and students.

Think of it as Benklerian disruption, rather than Christensenian disruption.

Joel Reidenberg

I think James describes a likely scenario. Point 4 is really about credential validation. Someone, some school or some association will issue credentials based on acquired knowledge regardless of the way the knowledge was acquired. The value of the credential will depend on the trustworthiness and reputation of the issuer.

Alfred Brophy

Thanks for this post, Paul. I've been wondering what on-line courses from major schools will look like in light of the UVA uproar.

Small is beautiful, to invoke a 1960s-ism, James. But I think the just to (4) is going to be difficult -- and rather unlikely. My bet is that, to the extent major universities are going to make money delivering courses on-line to huge numbers of students, it'll be more top-down. My guess is that some major schools will start marketing some of their programs on-line, particularly basic undergraduate programs.

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