Show me the money!


It is discussed quite often what defines the success of MOOC. Some says completion rates aren’t the best way to judge MOOCs, but then what is the alternative?

I guess eventually it goes down to the objective of education. If it is to prepare people for jobs, then use employment rate and post study salary (like what B schools do). If it is to prepare people for research, then use # of papers published and # of PHDs produced. If it is to differentiate people, then use # of certificates and scores. The reason it is hard to measure learning success is that people probably have different learning agendas. Using a single metrics to measure education is fundamentally limited.

But for venture capital-backed MOOCs, there is a single metrics. Show me the money. Tell investors how much social impact your venture is brining and their primary focus will still be your profit and loss table – show me your revenue annual growth rate. Make money! Scale up! Otherwise we are gonna change the CEO! For non venture capital backed MOOCs, they have a bit of luxury. However, they also have less incentive to pivot fast.

I never stopped thinking the best way to combine education with capital. I am very aware the positive power of capitalism. Visit a Chinese state-owned company and a Chinese private-run company, one understands the power of market mechanism. At the same time, I am very aware of the mission of education. It is about providing people opportunities by equipping them with knowledge. Would pure venture capital money be able to fulfil that mission 100%? Look at the recent example of how Udacity pivoted. 

For a VC-backed MOOC, show me the money (quickly)!

For a non VC-backed MOOC, congratulations you won’t be whipped so often but that might be a curse in long run!


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