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This article describes the economic benefits of the MOOC business model for higher education.

In America, bowing to the inevitable, universities have joined various startups in the rush to provide stand-alone instruction online, through Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Though much experimentation lies ahead, economics can shed light on how the market for higher education may change.

Still, for the elite universities the traditional business model may be the best bet. PSA is searching for the “personal link with online learning” in a social learning construct (SLC), preserving the exclusivity found in elite universities.

Online courses break the personal link between students and university and, if offered cheaply to outsiders, may make regular graduates feel more like chumps than the chosen few. For top schools, the best bet may simply be to preserve their exclusivity.