Based on the research by Brynn Beavers on the effects of rewards in reading incentive programs on student motivation and participation among middle school children, one learns that even adults need to be motivated. MOOCs participant have to be motivated to take up the challenge of studying and completing their courses on the platforms. Coursera, Udacity, and EDx are not exempted out of this; these platforms have a high influx of students but in the long run, the number of students completing the courses successfully are quite few. It is imperative to acknowledge that there is a gap that needs to be evaluated and filled with the right tools in order to improve the completion rates in most of these online classes.

The use of extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards aides in increasing the motivation to take up more classes. The introduction of a rewards system upon completion of a given unit or a number of weeks in the program would clearly aide in improving the participant’s aptitude to take part in more classes. The manner of rewards programs can vary from the earning point, certificate of participation, scholarships and recommendations to better institutions of learning can be key motivating factors that would increase the participation of many individuals in the program. It is important to make an assessment of the changes in trends in student participation, retention rates, and completion rates upon the introduction of an incentive or a rewards system in the online course. In the long run, the effects can be tabulated and evaluated; this would help in figuring out which reward system best suits the platform. Knowing the best reward system to be used would help the designers of the platform to focus more on the development of that special program in order to take full advantage of the leads it offers.

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It is vital also to be aware of the negative ramifications of a rewards program, in many cases, students might think that a course is not good enough to be tackled on its own without a reward. In the implantation of a reward system, the value of seeking out knowledge gain becomes tainted; individuals end up feeling that they are pushed towards the attainment of the course objectives. Motivation should not be a force of dissuading individuals from following up on their earlier set goals, but should be used to push them towards the achievement of the same. A good rewards system should be one that seeks out to motivate other than to dissuade; it is critical that the reward system strikes a balance in meeting the objectives of the organization and that of the student in the curriculum.

Gamification is another aspect that seeks out to be used as suggested by many experts as a tool necessary to improve student participation in learning. Gamification seeks out to strike a balance between active gaming and learning. Students are perceived to be motivated by challenges, games promote participation, persistence and a sense of a nearby achievement. Research on games indicates that the activity should first be fun, should have flow and a sense of achievement. Gamification of study content is a highly debatable topic in many MOOCs fora. The proponents of the idea see it as an opportunity to develop a carefully crafted program that would see participants competing against each other not on the basis of mastery like in normal academic setting but in a fun and genius way (Deeds, 2015). Designers of a gamified learning platform should be careful on the design of the platform as the poor design may lead to negative ramifications.

The introduction of motivation and incentive programs into MOOCs means that there is critical need for students to make aware of the importance of their undertakings and the need to complete the program. Though in some other platforms students are not charged upon registration and during course work it is still important that they are reminded on the main objective of engaging in the program. The use of motivation and incentives as a tool to aide in maintain the student focus and increasing completion rates would prove to be important. The trick is to develop a well and carefully crafted incentive program that would help avoid the negative ramifications of a reward system. Motivation is important in every aspect of a human beings life, and it is important that individuals are brought back to the course to meet the earlier set objectives.

Products

Coursera generates its profits from its product offering on their web platform, the technology used in the provision of quality online course was the best at the time. Through the incorporation of the latest cloud application services from Amazon Web Service, the company created a very dynamic platform that enabled access to quality online academic content. The organization used courses as the main products of the company, it implemented the free course section and also introduced the premium course services. The next product was the company gear, these included T-Shirts, and Mugs, these products saw to the increase in revenues.

Review of Revenue Models

Coursera and other MOOCs take their time to develop a profit generation business model that would see to the organizations generating profits. The revenue models by Coursera was sensible in a way that the financial projections indicated that the organization was going to be profitable in a year or so. Recently startup reviews have indicated that the business models developed by MOOCs have not seen them making any profit. Operational expenditures have been met with the cash acquired from the business; there are critical questions on whether the revenue models developed would actually generate any profits to the organization.

Several revenue models were developed by Coursera in a bid to create a revenue generating project. Below is an assessment of the revenue models projected;

•    Content Delivery Charges: This model looks into earning revenue from the delivery of the course contents. This revenue model start charging non-partners for access to content, introduction of courses that would be charged and also the charging of companies that needed to train their employees. This model proved to be meaningful for a while, but it never materialized to be a lucrative source of cash.

•    The introduction of Premium Service: Coursera saw into the introduction of courses that required payment. The access of certain content were considered as premium content. The first track of courses generated over $800,000 in revenues. It was reviewed that such revenues would not be enough to sustain the operations of the organization. 

•    Sales of Student Traffic data: The large database of student data could be monetized, the information on their database was large enough to be sold to an organization that required current information of student data. The information could be sold to career services analyst, the model saw to the receipt of commission for recommendations to websites like Amazon, Chegg.com, and SCRIBD. There were options of making money through the sales of advertising sponsorships on their platform, this model would resemble what Facebook, Twitter and Google are using.

The above-mentioned revenue models are all formidable; they are portentous for revenue generation. Coursera has been held back by the poor completion rates among students; this challenge has gone into reducing the revenues generated through the already mentioned business models. It is important to acknowledge the power of rewards and incentive programs to avert the situation that Coursera is going through currently. If Coursera implements a rewards system on their products, then they stand to generate revenues from the above mentioned revenue models. It is crucial to understand that the above mentioned revenue models are perfect, they should not be changed or discredited in anyway, they should just be enhanced through additional support in the form of developing and increasing student’s motivation.

References

Dean, T. (2016). How to increase online course completion rates - RockStar Empires. RockStar Empires. Retrieved 14 September 2016, from http://www.rockstarempires.com/2016/08/increase-online-course-completion-rates/

Deeds, D. (2015). T. Reiners and L. Wood (eds): Gamification in Education and Business. Technology, Knowledge And Learning. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10758-015-9255-7

Jiang, S., Williams, A., Warschauer, M., He, W., & O'Dowd, D. (2014). Influence of incentives on performance in a pre-college biology MOOC. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 15(5). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1858/3068

Koller, D., Chen, Z., ; Ng, A. (2013). Retention and Intention in Massive Open Online Courses: In Depth. Retrieved 14 September 2016, from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2013/6/retention-and-intention-in-massive-open-online-courses-in-depth

Mucherah, W. ; Yoder, A. (2008). Motivation for Reading and Middle School Students' Performance on Standardized Testing in Reading. Reading Psychology, 29(3), 214-235. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02702710801982159