Top Universities Start Experimenting with Free Online Courses as a Way to Engage Alumni

Another reason to create MOOCs or Mini-MOOCs?

Alumni engagement… and fundraising!

Some of the top American universities involved with edX and Open edX are analyzing this approach.

One of the first organizations experimenting with enrolling alumni in free online courses is Colgate University through ColgateX .

Prof. Karen Harpp’s “Advent of the Atomic Bomb” course, launched in the spring of 2015 on edX’s Edge platform, is a good example. It attracted 380 alumni. In August, Professors Jennifer Brice and Jane Pinchin re-ran the “Living Writers” course, also on edX’s Edge, with an audience of 800 participants –and 678 of them were alumni.

Colgate University considers the program a success. This institution didn’t reveal whether donations have resulted from this initiative, but admitted that those types of courses could serve as an indirect way to fundraise in the future, according to “The Chronicle of Higher Education”. Colgate explained that “free online courses have proved to be convenient avenues for continuing education because they allow alumni to learn from home and get exactly what they want.”

Other universities trying the same approach are Harvard with its HarvardX for Alumni program and the University of Wisconsin.