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Learn on the Go is a great app for Windows Phone users who are taking free classes at Coursera. The Feedback Hub app for Windows 10 is now available for everyone to try, expanding from its previous Insider-only status.
Dropbox for Windows 10 has received yet another hefty update, bringing the ability to easily cast your videos to another screen, respond to comments in notifications and much more! The University of British Columbia, a premier public research university in Canada, successfully delivered five MOOCs in the spring and summer of 2013, using the Coursera platform. The report is particularly valuable because it provides details of course development and delivery, including media used and costs. None of the instructors had taught an online course before, but were supported by instructional designers, media development staff, and academic assistants (graduate and undergraduate students). One major difference between UBC MOOCs and its online credit courses (which are primarily LMS-based) was the extensive use of video, the main component of the MOOC pilot courses. All the MOOCs except Games Theory also included weekly modules as HTML-based web pages, which is a variation of the Coursera design default model. There was very little one-on-one interaction between the main instructor and learners, but academic assistants monitored and moderated the online forum discussions. Working from the video production costs ($95,350) and the proportion of costs (44%) devoted to video production in Figure 1 in the report, I estimate the direct cost at $216,700, or approximately $54,000 per MOOC, excluding faculty time and co-ordination support, but including academic assistance. It is clear from the comments of participants in the appendices that at least some of the participants (we don’t know how many) were very pleased with the courses. It is also significant that UBC has now decided to move from Coursera to edX as its platform for MOOCs. This also demonstrates the hubris of MOOC platform developers in ignoring best design principles in online learning when they designed their platforms.
The UBC report also highlighted the importance (and cost) of providing some form of learner support in course delivery.
I very much appreciate the cost data provided by UBC, and the breakdown of production and delivery costs is extremely valuable, but I have to challenge the idea of providing any costs that exclude the time of the instructors. It is clear that MOOCs are more expensive to date per hour of study time than LMS-based for-credit online courses.
More importantly, every institution contemplating MOOCs needs to do a cost-benefit exercise. Is it better to invest in MOOCs or credit-based online learning or both?
If the MOOC provides a successful investment from a marketing perspective, then perhaps the investment dollars (or at least a portion of them) should be coming from the marketing budgets and not the distance education budgets.

As far as I know there has been no attempt to use the MOOCs to market the for-credit online courses and I don’t think there are any in the same subject areas as the MOOCs. Neus Capdeferro on Culture and effective online learning environmentsI agree with you about the importance of considering the impact of culture in learning environments. Return to top of page This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
A brand new (August 30th, 2012) feature of Coursera is the ability to create a profile on the Coursera site – a good thing as it makes it easier for students to find and connect with each other.
The bit I really like about the profile is that Coursera has given you the ability to make your profile open to the world. As a networked learner, I believe being open to the world is an important principle and core networked learning concept.
The profile also gives you the opportunity to add in links to a personal website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or G+ account, and (reflecting that Coursera was born out of computing science) a GitHub account, again enabling connections to happen outside the institution; connections that can carry on long after the course is finished. My Coursera profile by Clint Lalonde is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Wrangler of learning technologies by day, Dad, cyclist, soccer fan and, lately, home roaster of coffee by night. It’s an education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.
Also UBC has been developing online courses for credit for almost 20 years, so it is interesting to see how this has impacted on the design of their MOOCs. Appendix B of the report gives a pilot total of $217,657, but this excludes academic assistance or, perhaps the most significant cost, instructor time.
The video production costs for Climate Literacy, which used intensive studio production, were more than six times the video production costs of Systematic Program Design (hybrid studio + desktop). UBC was able to gain direct experience in and knowledge of MOOCs and look at how this might inform both their for-credit on-campus and online teaching. As usual though with evaluation reports on MOOCs, there is no assessment of learning other than the end of course quiz-based tests.
It is clear that UBC designers were able to improve the design of their MOOCs by drawing on prior for-credit online experience, but also that the MOOC platforms are still very limited in enabling the kind of learning activities that lead to student engagement and success. The use of academic assistants in particular clearly made the MOOCs more interactive and engaging, as well as limited but effective interventions from the instructors themselves, once again supported by (and confirming) prior research on the importance of instructor presence for successful for-credit online learning. This is by far the largest and most important cost in MOOCs and the notion that MOOCs are free of instructor cost is to fly in the face of any respectable form of economics.

We still do not have enough data to give a precise figure, and in any case, as the UBC study shows, cost is very much a factor of design. If MOOCs are more expensive, what are the added benefits they provide and does this more than make up for not only the extra cost, but the lost opportunity of investing in (more) credit-based online learning or other forms of campus-based learning? One comment you mention is that the MOOC provided an opportunity to show-case the quality of the UBC online programs. Open to the world as the default is the first step that enables learning connections beyond the institution – something that I want. They have over 5 million students from 190 countries taking free online courses in Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, Computer Science, and more.
You can download each video for the week individually or click the option to download all at the bottom. The weekly modules were used to provide guidance to students on learning goals, amount of work expected, an overview of activities, and additional quiz or assignment help.
UBC was also able to bring its experience in for-credit online learning to strengthening the design of MOOCs. I don’t care too much about completion rates, but some measurement of student satisfaction would have been helpful.
However, even without instructors costs, the UBC MOOCs at $54,000 each for between 8-12 weeks are already more than the average cost of a 13 week for-credit LMS-based online course, including instructor time. If that is case, I would wonder, over the next 2-3 years, if the MOOC is drawing more people to the UBC online programs?
What I meant was that UBC was able to bring its prior experience in designing for-credit online programs to the design of its MOOCs. I am the Manager of Educational Technologies at BCcampus, working primarily on open education projects.
Lastly it was able to make much more widely known the quality of UBC instructors and course materials. Opata on Culture and effective online learning environmentsFantastic work in the world of teaching and learning and more particular in reinvention in learning.
It lets you pre-download the lecture videos, so you can then watch them later on the train or the bus.

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