With its scalability, its collaborative features and the huge number of contributed add-ons available, Moodle is perfectly suited to running from small, 10 learner courses, to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) with thousands of learners.. Indeed, here at Moodle HQ, we’ve been running a successful free MOOC twice-yearly since 2013: our Learn Moodle Basics which regularly attracts between 3 and 6 thousand participants.
Recent, challenging times have shown a rise in online courses to meet growing demand from teachers and students unable to attend classes physically. Organisations and individuals around the world are turning to eLearning to offer free MOOCs and courses to bring knowledge to a wide range of learners who would not otherwise be able to access the expert content provided.
However, if you’re an educator who has developed a MOOC or is planning to offer free online courses, you might have spotted a problem:
Free MOOCS and free courses cost money!
While your teaching materials might be free to access and while you as a facilitator might be happy to run live sessions (for example using BigBlueButton) your site hosting and your planning time need to be paid for. Somehow you need to recoup costs while still keeping your MOOC free of charge. That’s where this month’s cool Paypal Availability plugin can help! This plugin was developed and maintained by long-time Moodler Daniel Neis Araujo, co-founder of Brazilian Moodle Partner Adapta Learning. In short, the plugin allows teachers to restrict access to course content until a participant has sent money via Paypal.
Free content, paid certificates!
Because the Paypal availability plugin enables you to restrict access to the content that you choose, this gives you many options to monetise your courses. For example, you could offer some content for free and release other content after payment, or give your content for free but ask for payment if your learners want a document that certifies their learnings.
In fact, on our own MOOC site, learn.moodle.org, we make use of this plugin to offer optional certificates to participants who complete a free course. Anyone who completes Moodle Teaching Basics, for example, is awarded a digital completer badge which they can share on social media and present as part of their professional portfolio. However, those who prefer a more detailed certificate, or who like to see their success framed on the wall, can simply click the Paypal link, pay the fee and download their certificate.
How does the plugin work?
Talk to your Moodle Administrator, who can download the Paypal availability plugin for your Moodle site from our Moodle Plugins Database and add it to your Moodle site.
Then, in your course, from the Restrict access section of the certificate, specify that the participants must have completed all required activities AND must make a payment via Paypal. You’ll have to complete some monetary details which only you and your organisation will know
Then, once a participant has completed the course, the certificate will appear with a condition:
The link leads to the Paypal button – the participant pays – and all that’s left is to find a nice frame for the certificate that appears for download!
*Note:* This is not the same as the standard Paypal enrolment plugin, which restricts access to a whole course until payment has gone through.
Using the plugin to release purchased certificates is not the only way you could monetise your MOOC. Why not offer some content, say at basic level, for free and then release some optional, more advanced content upon payment?
Or if you are selling courses, rather than providing MOOCs, then why not create your Moodle course with a few ‘taster’ activities at no cost and then activate the Paypal availability plugin to open up the rest of the course once payment is made?
We believe this plugin is a win-win situation for all course developers. Let us know what you think!