Friday, April 05, 2013

Could we afford a full-time teacher for one course?

We've heard suggestions that MOOCs might enable us to take courses offered by all-star professors at elite universities. Why take a course from a professor at a local state university when you could take a course from a renowned Harvard scholar?

But, would that be a good use of resources?  Albert Einstein was too busy to teach a physics MOOC.

Government subsidizes education for the benefit to the society and economy.  If we assume that MOOCs work well for some courses and some students, government should be willing to foot part of the bill.

In an earlier post, I did a back-of-the envelope calculation speculating that a MOOC might generate annual revenue of, say $200,000. In my estimate, most of that revenue would come from students seeking entertainment and enrichment, not certification.

What if the government would match that, allocating another $200,000 for a MOOC. At that level of funding, could we cover the overhead -- management and administration, production, software refinement, community facilitation, hosting, bandwidth, etc. -- and have enough surplus to hire an outstanding, motivated teacher and perhaps a TA to spend full time presenting and improving a single course?

If you are a good teacher at a state university, community college or high school, think of how well you could teach a course you were interested in if that one course were your full time job and you had support staff.