Forget the straight and narrow – focus on the Curve

Picture of curve patternsI’ve just been reading a book by Nicholas Lovell called the Curve. It’s essentially about embracing the change that has come with the digital world in which we live and about thinking differently. He makes a point about how the old fashioned way of thinking about your ‘product’ (whatever that is) was about the number. How many do we sell, etc. But its all changed now and it’s more about the customer – the experience. Giving stuff way for free is a good thing, there will always be people that will pay for something extra, the ‘superfans’ he calls them.

I was thinking about how this idea could be applied to HE. I especially started to think about this for MOOCs. We offer them for free but we are trying to apply old fashioned models to them. Creating them in the image of the established models from our antiquated lecture theatres and then asking everyone to buy a certificate, or pay for a model that offers authentication. Where’s the experience in that? We could offer so much more, what if everyone could do the MOOC for free but a few could pay more for a package, (don’t ask me what) but I think the super fans, as Lovell put it could come up with what they would want? How about the EdX MOOC Justice offering a series of sessions on the campus, with a signed book by Michael Sandell, or for the super rich, super fans, how about an audience with? Or better still, an evening with, someone has the money and some would pay.

I’m not saying that this is the answer to the business model question for MOOCs but its much more interesting to think about it in the way that Lovell has described in his book. It doesn’t have to end there either, we could be so much more creative with our courses, and offer differing levels of packages.

I’m not sure everyone is quite ready, but I’m watching with interest for the effects of the Curve with Higher Education.

photo credit: Kris Krug via photopin cc

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