London predicts Mooc recruitment windfall

International Programmes analysis points to courses’ marketing benefits

November 7, 2013

Results from only the second UK university to run massive open online courses on a major US platform have shown the tool’s potential power for recruiting students to full programmes.

The University of London International Programmes said that it expected to recruit 45 fee-paying students as a result of the Moocs it ran earlier this year.

Between June and August, it offered four courses on the Coursera platform and said it hoped to generate at least £200,000 from students who otherwise would not have enrolled on its fee-paying programmes.

The majority of the students have either registered for or applied to study the university’s bachelor’s of laws programme, which typically costs about £4,000 to £5,000 to complete, the institution said.

“A lot of those students came, as you’d expect, from our English common law Mooc,” said Mike Kerrison, director of academic development at the London International Programmes.

Meanwhile, “a range of students” have applied for its MSc in information security, he added, which was related to the Mooc on “malicious software and its underground economy”.

Nice little earner

“In terms of converting marketing cost into return…you’re looking at something in the region of £200,000,” Mr Kerrison said, adding that it would “actually be more than that” because some of the master’s-level programmes to which students had applied would cost more than those offered at the undergraduate level.

London International Programmes has produced an in-depth analysis of its first four Moocs, which was published on 4 November.

It reveals that the university allocated £20,000 for the design, development and launch of each course. Teaching staff spent “approximately 200 hours” during the six months it took to develop each one and between 10 and 20 hours a week once it went live.

However, for Patricia McKellar, associate director of the laws programme at London International Programmes, who worked on the English common law Mooc, the temporal commitment was somewhat heavier – particularly immediately after the course went live.

“It was quite intense, especially the first two to three weeks. We had to man the forums and we did that for around 18 hours a day between two of us,” she said.

“As you can imagine, at the beginning we were very concerned at that point that we were meeting students’ needs, and making sure that the course was running correctly.”

According to the report, 212,110 students enrolled on the Moocs, with 8,843 (about 4 per cent) receiving a statement of accomplishment to indicate that they had completed their courses.

Among those who actively participated in the Moocs, the completion rate rose to 9 per cent.

Despite those relatively low figures, some 91 per cent of users rate their experience as “satisfactory”, “good” or “excellent”, according to a survey of about 3,500 registered students.

The University of London was the second UK institution to offer Moocs on a major US platform: the first, the University of Edinburgh, launched its Coursera Moocs in January.

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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