In 2018 we should combine our twin obsessions of World Cup soccer (football) and open online education (MOOCs) into one event.
Let's create the World Cup MOOC.
Here is how it could happen:
Step 1 - Get a Sponsor:
Sponsorship is necessary because the streaming version of the World Cup required the possession of a paid cable subscription. Unlike the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (March Madness) or the Superbowl, online and mobile app viewing of the World Cup was restricted to those that could produce a cable username and password.
This poor decision to lock-down the online viewing of the World Cup (FIFA, ABC?) probably meant that a new generation of cord cutters were excluded from viewing. Assuming that a non-open online / app World Cup remains status quo for 2018, which would be too bad, we can envision a scenario of alternative log-ons. One of those alternatives could be sponsorship that would unlock access to online / app World Cup viewing for those lifelong learners registered for the World Cup MOOC.
The ability to continue to stream the tournament could even be predicated on persistence in the course. Miss too many assignment or online assessments and have your World Cup viewing cut-off. See what that does for MOOC persistence.
Sponsorship is critical here because there is probably some cost to the network or FIFA or someone to get online access. A sponsor would gain lots of good will (and probably some great data on those that signed up for the World Cup MOOC), making the investment to underwrite the course a good marketing move.
Sponsorship would also create revenue opportunities that are hugely more lucrative than any current open online education money generating schemes.
The sponsorship model would be even better if the online / app version of the World Cup goes free in 2018. All that sponsorship revenue could go to the MOOC platform and the school.
Step 2 - Make It Rigorous:
I’m talking about a real course here. A course that uses the World Cup as a window to examine all sorts of sociological, economic, anthropological, and political themes.
Everyone in the class could read (an open version) of Franklin Foer’s book How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization.
Treating the World Cup as a window to examine macro trends such as globalization, immigration and industrialization would give the matches a larger context, and provide a unique lens to understand the passions generated by the tournament.
Weaving a rigorous college level course around the World Cup would also be an excellent demonstration of how higher education can be relevant, timely, and connected to the everyday lives of a global citizenry. And it might just be loads of fun to boot.
Step 3 - Make It Social:
Just think about it. Everyone enrolled in the course would access the streaming World Cup games through the interface of the online course. You would be watching with not only fellow fans, but fellow lifelong learners.
The online learning platform would have to be set-up to accommodate not only streaming, but conversation and commentary around the live action.
Could the online platform replicate the shared communal experience that occurs when watching a match live in a stadium? Who knows. It would be a different type of energy, a different sort of experience. But this this a an interesting design and technical problem to solve, and solving it would pay dividends as the model is extended to other live events.
We have 4 years to pull this off.
Who is going to step up?