A race to the bottom: MOOCs and higher education business models

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This is a critical examination of the claims that innovations such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) will disrupt the business models of the higher education sector. It describes what business models are, analyses the business model of free MOOCs offered by traditional universities and compares that model to that of paid online courses offered by distance teaching universities. The results of the analysis suggest that, in their present form, MOOCs are unlikely to address the challenge of reaching and assisting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and in developing countries. Nevertheless, MOOCs and the buzz surrounding them do signal a threat to the higher education sector, namely the widening gap between the skills of graduates of the educational system and the societal expectations from them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalOpen Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • MOOC
  • business model
  • higher education
  • innovation
  • massive open online course


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