Sustainability models OER – H817 Wk 9 Activity 10

Sustainability models OERFor this second activity of week 9 of H817 we were asked to read “On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education” by David Wiley and consider the sustainability models of four hubs economic models:


Seems to be run on a conversion model, similar to the idea of Freemium, by converting some of its “free” courses to “pay for” courses. Over the course of 2016 Coursera seems to have ramped up the level of “pay for” courses or specializations as they call them. Interesting to note that the organisation had a significant injection of funding last year. This CRUNCHBASE page gives a good overview of funding.

Sustainability models OER - COURSERA

Coursera funding (from CrunchBase page)

I would imagine that organisations that host their courses on the site also pay some sort of fee to upload and then host, based on the volume of use of their course. As a commercial entity, I cannot see Coursera allowing organisations to host for free.


Is funded on a sponsorship model by BC Ministry of Advanced Education.


Is the MOOC website developed by the Open University that is also open to other “partners”. Currently 82 at the time of writing. Funding is principally Sponsorship based from the Open university. Students can pay for a “Statement of Participation” at the end of a course, so this will bring in some revenue (curious as to the amount though). More recently some courses now offer end of course exams and so students can obtain a “Certificate of Attainment”. I would imagine partners pay something to host and use the platform.


OpenLearn is just one of the many OER projects at the Open University. THIS page lists all of them. It is funded on a Sponsorship Model with the Open University providing the key source of funding. It is also possibly to donate HERE to OpenLearn, so in effect it also has a smaller bolt on endowment model.

Sustainability models OER questions

Was the sustainability model for each initiative apparent?

Not really – The most transparent was OpenLearn. The remaining ones required some digging. I also have internal information of FutureLearn, so knew about the funding model (and amount ) for that project.

Did Wiley’s models cover all approaches or did you think a different model was operating for one or more of them?

Overall his paper covers the core ways these courses are supported. As OERs and MOOCs are still in their infancy, new funding models may emerge as this area matures.

[Image Credit: Pierre Amerlynck]

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