Funding for MOOCs

MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses) are going to be a big part of the education landscape for the next decade. The idea of bringing high quality education to the world is too powerful to be ignored.

One of the questions that organizations and interested educators are trying to solve, is the question of funding the operation of a provider of MOOCs. I have identified some ideas about the possible sources of funding that can be sought for funding this.

First of all it should be noted that not all providers will be universities but the universities do have a lot of the talent with recognized credentials.

Independent experts who are well-known in their fields will get together with top-notch instructors.
MOOC companies will be formed around specific areas of interest that physical campuses have a hard time getting a critical mass at one time.
Universities tend to be program oriented, MOOCs are student oriented – find a demand and fill it, then move on if the demand is no longer there.

Funding will come from foundations who have a mandate to solve certain problems.

Alumni are a big source of funding for universities. It could also be a big source for providers of MOOCs.
Three years from now when a 100,000 IT graduates are making money from the courses that you provided, you can ask them to become sustaining alumni at $100 per year – $10,000,000 from the equivalent of 5 -10 full-time instructors.

Advertising and sponsored courses – Pharmaceutical companies sponsoring medical and pharmacy courses – Car companies and aftermarket suppliers will sponsoring automotive electronics training. CAD software vendors will want to sponsor mechanical engieering courses.
If you can promise a company 100,000 eyeballs that all have a need of your product and are going to be strong influencers once they complete the courses, you will find a way to negotiate a good price.

Donations – if you have a course with 100,000 students and you ask the people to donate $2 and only half of them do, you still have a pretty good revenue stream for the investment..

I am not worried that MOCCs will struggle.
Different providers will find different ways to get their funding.