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Two Stories on the Profits of Online Education

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 9:03 AM

As we wrote earlier this week, there's money to be made -- and saved -- in online education. That dynamic is playing out in some interesting ways.

At Ohio University, one student says the pricing for digital access to learning materials is outrageous:

We are expected to pay for digital access to something that fails to improve the learning experience.... The future will only hold more cost for “updating” and “accessing” online features that can be done the same way they have at the university for hundreds of years. When everything on the Internet can be found for free in this day and age, why should a simple program like this cost this much to students?

Meanwhile at Ohio State University...

Ohio State signed up last month to offer two free courses online through Coursera. (The courses are both pharmacy courses and cannot be taken for credit--just for learning.) But the school doesn't expect to profit off the courses anytime soon, the Ohio State Lantern reports:

“There is no revenue stream through Coursera at this particular point,” [Vice provost for Undergraduate Studies Wayne Carlson said]. “What the terms of agreement did is it looked at possibilities for future revenue sharing, all of which would need to be negotiated at the time that any revenue stream actually did occur, which is not completely clear.”

Carlson said the university does not look at the agreement with Coursera as a way to profit, but as an opportunity to take advantage of new technology.

“We can’t look at it as a revenue stream,” Carlson said. “We know that the Coursera platform has integrated some interesting approaches to grading and assessment, and that particular technology is really interesting to all of us as we look to growing online and hybrid and distance education courses.”

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