We foresee digital
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soring company details their problem
and offers a reward. The sponsor selects the preferred solutions, the winners receive rewards, and Innocentive
receives a commission. Blending the
Innocentive model with experiential
learning gives students the opportunity to solve concrete problems and
learn new and diverse concepts, as
they progress toward mastering new
skills. Their final output is also socially useful.
forms) where they will each contribute their best digital courses, making
them available to other members for
a fee. Such courses will not necessarily be MOOCs, but, more likely,
blended format courses involving local study groups at each participating
A startup company called 2U is already experimenting with this business
model. 2U is forming a consortium of
universities that are, each contributing
blended online courses, to be potentially licensed and used by other consortium members. Current 2U members include Boston College, Emory,
Notre Dame, Northwestern, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Student recruiting analytics.
Traditional universities can become clients
of MOOC analytics. As high school students vie for admission to colleges and
undergraduates vie for admission to
graduate programs, MOOCs can offer
valuable data that identify and assess
outstanding prospects. In California,
for example, the college system often
feeds its best students into the university system.
Academia must learn from what
writer Jeff Jarvis calls “shovelware,” old
products foist on consumers in new
media. We are very optimistic. Digital
courseware will produce new business
models and enormous social value in
our increasingly connected world.
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Syndication. By 1846, the newspaper
industry had discovered it makes no
sense for every newspaper to write
original articles for every newsworthy
story. No single newspaper has the resources nor can any newspaper claim
to be most qualified on all topics. The
Associated Press introduced the practice of syndication as an obvious solution: member newspapers make their
original content available to other
members for a fee. In such associations, usually the best-qualified member produces content on a topic and
everyone else licenses it, saving production costs and resulting in higher
Today’s traditional universities operate like newspapers that insist on
producing original articles of variable
quality for all stories. In a world of rising costs and global information transparency this is unsustainable. From an
economic standpoint, universities will
find it too costly to hire professors for
every subject students request. From a
quality perspective, students will steer
clear of substandard local teaching
when they know a blockbuster digital
course is available.
We foresee digital course syndication emerging in higher education:
Universities will form consortia (plat-
1. alliance for excellent education. the high cost of high
school dropouts—What the nation pays for inadequate
high schools. Issue brief, Washington, D.c., 2007.
2. cameron, l. and bazelon, c. the impact of digitization
on business models in copyright-driven industries: a
review of the economic issues. the brattle group, Inc.,
3. cusumano, m. are the costs of ‘free’ too high in online
education? Commun. ACM 56, 4 (apr. 2012).
4. lewin, t. and markov, J. california to give Web courses
a big trial. The New York Times (Jan. 15, 2013).
5. mourshed, m., farrell, D., and barton, D. Education
to Employment: Designing a System that Works.
mckinsey center for government, 2013.
6. Parker, g., and Van alstyne, m. Internetwork
externalities and free information goods. In
Proceedings of the 2nd ACM Conference on Electronic
Commerce. acm, 2000.
7. Parker, g., and m. Van alstyne. two-sided network
effects: a theory of information product design.
Management Science 51, 10 (oct. 2005), 1494–1504.
Chrysanthos Dellarocas ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor
and the chair of the department of management
information systems at boston university.
Marshall Van Alstyne ( email@example.com) is an associate
professor in the department of management information
systems at boston university and a research scientist at
the mIt center for Digital business.