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A major reservation about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is that they are extremely expensive to develop and deliver and for most institutions this cannot be justified on a sustainable financial basis. As part of the MOOC technological revolution, costs and funding opportunities have been cited as reasons not to proceed (Gaebel, Kupriyanova, Morais, and Colucci, 2014). Whereas, the findings to date show that this may not be the case for all, educational institutions are often eager to engage technology and embed it into programmes (Hollands, and Devayani, 2014). There are many examples of excellent learning materials being created and distributed on the web using low cost techniques. The Khan Academy has offered free world class education for anyone, anywhere in the world since 2006. Not only are these materials freely available for reuse, but the technologies and techniques used to create them can be easily used to cheaply create new materials. The authors, in a project funded by Intel Ireland, are currently developing and testing workflows and techniques that will facilitate the rapid development of MOOCs at relatively low cost. This project, which will include the delivery of four MOOCs in coding, aimed at young people, endeavouring to measure both the costs involved and the educational impact on the participants through qualitative and quantitative research metrics. The design, methodology and approach to innovative pedagogic practices will be tested, as will the opportunities for peer to peer learning among the students, the use of asynchronous forums, auto/peer grading and collaborative activities among the developers. A prerequisite of the project is the voluntary effort of the developers. However, as production costs are often regarded as the most expensive element of the MOOC, this project will demonstrate that by completing it “in-house” the costs will be negligible. In a recent study 38% of institutions believed that cost is a key concern (Hollands, and Devayani, 2014). The video submissions will be uploaded onto the MOOC platform as both an online repository for the learning material and as a quality checking mechanism and rolled out in a pilot programme from January 2015. The research describes some of the proposed methods that can be used to develop MOOCs at very low cost, but also how, with a competency based approach to accreditation, they may be the catalyst of significant change in higher education. (Lederman, 2013, Mulligan, 2013). In this project open badges will be used as recognition of participation and achievement, with the end goal of international accreditation, as global currency. This is despite the fact that 72% of educators believing that formal accreditation should not be allowed (Petkovska, Delipetrev, and Zdravev, 2014). One of the partners has agreed to trial the MOOC’s with a Zambian student cohort, which will help achieve the globalisation of MOOC’s. The pilot will be available to students within the developers sector and through wider participation with open availability to all by a registration process. As part of the research data on MOOC’s the studies look to determine if the realisation of a digital campus in terms of student satisfaction by completing a MOOC are different from the results for traditional students (Walker, and Brooks, 2013). The final success of the project will be determined by the merit of scalability and by the cost analysis.
Day, R., & Mulligan, B. (2015). Making Free Online Learning Sustainable Through Reduction of Production Costs. Higher Education in Transformation Conference, Dublin, Ireland, 2015, pp.273-280.