I've never understood the MOOC business model

Here's someone else with the same issue, but explained more elegantly than I.  From Valerie Strauss, writing in The Washington Post.

‘Irrational exuberance’ over MOOCs

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan said in 1996 that the high-flying stock market was an instance of “irrational exuberance.” 
Nearly two decades later, were he so inclined  to inspect the swift expansion of elite universities into sponsoring Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), he might have said pretty much the same thing. 
Certainly, there is “exuberance.”  The hype, the constant flow of words like “revolutionary,” “transformational,” speak to university officials becoming trumpeters for  expanding the reach of top-notch professors and brand-name institutions into every corner of the world where there is an Internet connection. The inspired hopes of university-based entrepreneurs to monetize these courses and bring in fresh dollars drives some professors to leave tenured positions and start new companies. The dream of pedagogically- riven faculty to use MOOCs to spread their expert knowledge to thousands of hungry students and, at the same time, enhance student-centered collaboration through networks where they come together to share ideas and help one another spurs professors to finally convert typical lecture courses into truly learner-centered experiences.  So there is exuberance. 
And “irrational?” The Harvards, MITs, Dukes, Berkeleys, and Stanfords of higher education  offer these free courses now to anyone in the world. They give certificates of completion to the few who end up completing MOOCs. But not for credit toward a degree. That is a lose-lose proposition for elite institutions. Even irrationality has its limits.

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