eCornell Offers a MOOC That Steers Students to a Paid Follow-Up

Released: 01/08/2013

Featured Article in the Chronicle of Higher Education

By Katherine Mangan

Cornell University’s online spinoff is moving into MOOCs, with a free marketing course in its hospitality program starting on Tuesday. But the program will be designed to steer students toward a follow-up course for $1,200 to get a professional certificate.

The free online course, “Marketing the Hospitality Brand Through New Media: Social, Mobile, and Search,” is being offered by eCornell. It’s geared toward people working in sales, marketing, and financial positions in the hospitality industry, and is being taught by Robert J. Kwortnik  and William Carroll, faculty members at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.

The school has been offering online courses through eCornell since 2002, but this is the first one that is being pitched as a massive open online course, or MOOC. Cornell officials hope the class will attract thousands of students.

Students who finish the self-paced course, which is expected to take most of them about one month, will receive letters of completion. Those who choose to go on can enroll in the second part of the course, which will take about three months. Successful completion will earn them a certificate in hospitality marketing and new-media strategies for revenue growth from Cornell University. The usual cost for that certificate programs is $3,300.

Students enrolled in the initial, free course will assume the role of marketing manager for a fictitious hotel in Baltimore, where they will devise a social- and new-media strategy to bring in more customers and attract positive online reviews.

“Students can apply the principles they’re learning in the course as a blueprint for their own businesses,” says Chris Proulx, president and chief executive officer of eCornell.

The course will include videos of experts in the industry, discussion boards, and 24-hour access to an “academic support team”—eCornell staff members who will answer questions and review discussions on the site.