verified certificate anachronism

Verified Certificates – MOOC’s Money Maker or Anachronism?

How can you generate revenue when you don’t charge at the entrance? Charge people when they want to go out. This seems to be the business model that MOOC providers are headed for if you take a look at the recent developments.

Though many purists claim that the “O” in MOOC which stands for open has progressively become meaningless, people can still take part in the vast majority of MOOCs, if they happen to be in countries that are not under US trade sanctions, of course. And this is a huge shift away from the classic academic model that tends to create the first barrier of entrance right at the start. On the one hand, students either need to have the required grades and qualifications, and parents, on the other hand, need to have sufficient income to pay for their kids’ tuition. I won’t go into the whole student loan crisis here, a very lucrative market for startups, by the way.

Taking a MOOC (almost) anyone from (almost) anywhere in the world who has a (sufficient) Internet connection can learn from the best professors of the most renown universities. And this is a problem as with no artificial limitation of access the number of highly educated individuals goes up which means the perceived value of a degree goes down. If everyone in your family holds an MBA or PhD it is hard to brag about it.

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Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at

  • bnleez

    Beyond the certification itself, the investment required to certify a learner includes assessing what the learner understands and can do (otherwise the certificate is meaningless). Making lectures, syllabi, etc. available openly online takes little additional investment on the part of the university, but the assessment piece is altogether different. Since much of what a student learns (through instruction) is tied to assessment, and since there will always be a level of accountability required, universities will continue to offer (and employers depend on) some form of accreditation (at a financial cost). I believe that employers though, will need to be more critical (as they should be) of any certificate in assuring that it represents the expectations needed to perform a particular job. We’ll start seeing a wider variety of certification processes (at a financial cost) and also a wider variety of what the certification process represents when it comes to what a learner understands and can do.

  • Bart

    Teachers and educational institutions could charge for the following: rich personal feedback on course work, technical, social and pedagogical support, informative assessment based on portfolio of creative work, easy access to international professional and academic networks. Accreditation, however, is a problematic money-maker: why would I pay for a certificate to prove that I can speak English, if I can just convince people of my language skills by speaking and writing with them?

  • I think a certificate is still worth quite a bit especially to employers, if you are freelancing certificates don’t matter as much but it depends on your field. They will always remain important for doctors, engineers, teachers, etc.

  • Nice article. I think certificate is very much
    important to finding a job.

  • experience, knowledge and certificate…all three important things