Georgia Tech is also working to hire a new class of university employees. These will be “people with domain expertise,” Isbell said, who can work with faculty and the course materials. These employees will be a new professional class of employees and not graduate assistants.Umakishore Ramachandran, a computer science professor who chaired the working group that prepared the internal report, said moving away from graduate assistants might be a good thing. He said graduate student teaching assistants face a learning curve and do not remain T.A.s for life. A professional aide, he said, could “help in retaining uniform quality.”
In other words, colleges will hire instructors who can add value to the MOOC experience rather than teach courses themselves. These teachers may lead smaller discussions and supplement the information provided by the MOOC. Professors may well dread the prospect of ceding ground to this “new class of university employees.”The Georgia Tech-Udacity agreement also addresses the important question of how MOOCs can make money. Over the first couple years, the program may just barely break even. But after the third year, both groups predict a healthy annual profit of nearly $5 million. The agreement clears up some other financial issues, too, like how much professors should be paid for creating a MOOC ($30,000, plus royalties every time the course is offered), and how profits should be shared between colleges and the companies that host the MOOCs (in this case, a 60-40 split, respectively).If these estimates are even close to accurate, and if other colleges adopt this model, MOOCs have a bright future ahead. Even the most reluctant professors may have no choice but to adapt, and soon.