The World Economic Forum announced the launch of the Forum Academy, an online course platform in partnership with edX. The first course named Global Technology Leadership will start in May with other courses to follow shortly thereafter.
Though the Forum Academy is a non-profit initiative students will have to pay a registration fee to take part in the courses which is set at around $200 according to the Huffington Post. The idea behind the Forum Academy is to put the Word Economic Forum’s network of global industry leaders and opinion-makers in range of a larger audience.
Other courses are going to deal with topics like the changing landscape in the Arab world, agriculture and social innovation.
The target audience of the Forum Academy are professionals and organizations working in a global setting. As strategic knowledge about developing markets and technological trends are key in a globalized world, the Forum Academy aims to provide those professionals with
“[…] yearly certified updates on the latest professional developments, leveraging its worldwide multi-stakeholder network of the best and most relevant knowledge providers.”
The $200 registration fee is an experiment to get higher completion rates. Jeremy Jurgens, CIO at the World Economic Forum and leader of the Forum Academy initiative stated that the openness of MOOCs can also be a drawback as completion rates tend to be between 3% and 7% according to the Huffington Post. He hopes that through the monetary commitment the majority of students at the Forum Academy will also complete the course they signed up for.
Though I agree that MOOC completion rates need to go up, I find the argument of increasing retention through a monetary commitment rather unconvincing. We all know what happens a couple of weeks in your gym membership.
And if it was about a symbolic commitment only, we could also talk about $50 or $100, but I guess the group of people targeted sees $200 as a rather small commitment anyway.
All in all, I see it as a way to monetize the World Economic Forum brand even though the initiative itself is a non-profit. And generally speaking, there is nothing bad about monetization of a brand, but they could have also called it what it is in the first place.