I have just listened to a THES podcast on the University of London MOOC’s offered on Coursera during 2013 and scanned their report.

  • University of London offered 4 MOOCs
  • They had initial interest (equivalent to click through and registration) of 241 075
  • They had initial active registration during the first week of 93 468 (44%)

This translated to 14K to 36K per course, with a median of around 22K
And initial rates from 32% to 50% with a median of 46%

  • Activity rates were roughly as follows

Three quarters of starters watched a video
Between 2% and a third took a quiz (median around 22%)
Between 4% and 7% posted in a forum (median 5%)

  • Participation drops week-by-week to around 27-28K (about a quarter of starters and just over 10% of all registered users)
  • Activity rates show the same overall pattern but drop

Videos – two-thirds with a low of 55%
Assessments – 61% with a low of 27% and median around 40%
Forum – 2% to 3%

  • Certificates of accomplishment were issued to 8.8K (less than 9% of starters and less than 5% of those who indicated interest)

Per course: 1,5K to 2,5K per with a median of about 2,4K
% of starters completing ranged from 6% to 18%
Completers as a % of people active in the sixth week ranged from 25% to 40% with a median of 34%

  • Repeat sales of a cash nature

The pod cast mentioned 45 enrolments on full degree courses with revenue of 250K
I believe the marginal cost of the MOOCs (not counting prior development costs of courses and full time staff) was 4x20K
Much of the material is re-usable
ROI was around 300%

Analysis

As a marketing cost

45 large sales of around 5K from initial interest of 241K – a ball park figure of 5 000 contacts per sale (
This is very low – Google expects a click through rate of 200 per ad
The initial registration of around 250K, in marketing terms, is a list of ‘qualified targets’ and the conversion rate should be higher?
As a ROI, the university is saying that marketing costs 80K/45 or 1K to 2K per person out of total fees of 5K is acceptable (normal?)

With an established world-wide brand, shouldn’t the university be driving its marketing and admin costs right down?

As an educational exercise

The podcast mentioned Cousera as being limited and adding other interactional material
But the report did not report the students’ use of this material
Or indeed any sophisticated analytics or responsiveness of the course on the basis of analytics

Isn’t the learning that when students enrol on a course, they want something clear and well organised? Are students not much more economical and organised than universities think?

Isn’t the service offered to help students start and finish, at times that suit them, and more economically (time wise) than heading over to Amazon and buying the book?

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