Gas station without pumps

2010 August 14

Open Study

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:49
Tags: ,

I recently posted on the free online engineering courses at Stanford, which provides, in addition to online lectures and assignments, a community of other people taking the same courses.  Mark Guzdial recently posted about Open Study, which creates a similar community for MIT OpenCourseWare.

I can clearly see the advantage of having people to talk to when trying to work through a course, but I’m curious about the business model.  For Stanford, the online community is connected with the courses, both of which serve primarily as advertising for the university.  In a similar way the MIT OpenCourseWare serves as advertising for MIT.

But what is the Open Study business model?  They’re a spin-off from Georgia Tech and Emory University in Atlanta, with startup funding from the Georgia Research Alliance, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health, but there is no indication on their About Us page or their blog about how they plan to continue paying people after the funding runs out.  Students will pay for others to do their work for them (witness all the term-papers-for-sale sites), but I don’t believe that this is the intended end-point for Open Study. Are they planning to sell advertising (the usual mechanism for “free” sites)?  Are they planning to keep getting research funding forever (not bloody likely)?  Are they planning on shutting things down as soon as the funding runs out (the usual fate of university spinoffs)?  Are they planning to start charging for the service (if so, why would any one pay for it)?  Are they planning to charge universities for supporting their classes (the model that MentorNet uses)?

2 Comments »

  1. Hi,

    Nice post. I just wanted to let you know that OpenStudy is a commercial venture and it will therefore be supported by a viable revenue model. We will be introducing a business model based on licensing fees to institutions and an optional subscription model for end users at a future date. There will always be a ‘free’ component to our offering.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Best,
    Jon Birdsong
    OpenStudy Marketing Manager

    Comment by Jon — 2010 August 16 @ 11:00 | Reply

  2. […] with Stanford Engineering Everywhere.  I’ve blogged about both of these projects before (here and here), because I think that they may be valuable to gifted high school […]

    Pingback by On-line learning not a big win « Gas station without pumps — 2010 September 27 @ 06:59 | Reply


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