Online Learning Update

October 30, 2013

MOOCs and the Liberation of Higher Ed: Reflections from edX President

Filed under: Online Learning News — Ray Schroeder @ 12:02 am

by Anne Eigeman, Non-Profit Quarterly

The question of how edX will ultimately generate income from its free classes to sustain the nonprofit organization has been an ongoing question for many and no doubt a source of attention for Agarwal. In response to Stephen Colbert’s asking why edX would offer classes for free, Agarwal sheepishly responded, “Enlightened self-interest—it’s good for everybody.” As a means to moving past enlightenment and toward the cold cash, however, this week the Atlantic reported that Agarwal has negotiated new income-generating partnerships with France and China via its Open edX platform. The deal gives both countries access to edX software and technical advice for their emerging MOOCs, for which edX will get an annual fee. As Robinson Meyer observed in the Atlantic, “It’s a seemingly irregular way to do business, but the environment of education, in all its market-esque complexity, is anything but regular.” With these new partnerships, Agarwal, the multi-tasking, moonlighting professor, might have just hit upon an important new business model for edX, along with new opportunities for MOOCs everywhere.

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