In a way, we’re kind of a lead generator… [t]here are many universities that are very well known in U.S. that are not very well known abroad, and the visibility they get through Coursera is in a way a very efficient way to reach new students. – Richard C. Levin, Coursera CEO in Wired Campus, As Coursera Evolves, Colleges Stay On and Investors Buy In
MOOCs as lead generators: I’d love to see this happen. And apparently so do Coursera’s investors as they just served up $49 million in VC funds to support Coursera’s new experiments in international markets. While most of the Coursera coverage focuses on MOOCs as professional development tools and mini-degree providers, the quote above introduces a new marketing tool for international admissions. Three-quarters of Coursera’s users are outside the US. For international admissions departments that are as open to experiments as Mr. Levin, the move raises loads of fun questions. A casual list:
- How do you define an international student on Coursera and what are their motivations? How do online-learning habits differ by country or culture?
- How do you identify a future international student – the one who is interested in attending the university hosting the course rather than just gaining new knowledge?
- How are future international students using Coursera?
- What’s the value of 40,000 student emails who signed up for a specific university MOOC but didn’t complete it? How does that value shift when 60% of that list completes the course? Would those who complete a MOOC earn a high value score and sky rocket to the top of your engagement list?
- How would MOOCs change if part of the course goal was lead generation (i.e. would they include rockstar professors who have a knack for engaging across cultures and platforms? Would they include strategic university swag placement!?)
- How will university departments – faculty and administration – muster the willpower, curiosity, and design-thinking skills to collaborate across departments to experiment with Coursera as a recruiting platform for future international students?
This last question might actually be the hardest to answer.