Authors' business model

Motivation and opportunity

Some professors and other experts are passionate about their disciplines, and about learning. They’re internally motivated.

Motivation isn’t enough, however. Making a good Cyco is a lot of work. Where does the time come from? Unless authors can stop doing something else, they won’t have the opportunity to make a Cyco. There needs to be a practical way for authors to substitute Cyco development for summer teaching, consulting, research, or something else, without suffering for it.

Suppose that:

  • Authors could charge for Cyco access.
  • Students purchase Cyco access, instead of buying textbooks.
  • Authors receive 100% of the revenue.
  • Start-up and operational costs are low.

Authors could get started on a Cyco, without capital. Because they get all of the revenue, they could afford to set low prices, and earn a good return for their time. Authors could make courses for small markets, and still earn enough.

CyberCourse meets these conditions. Let’s explore some of the issues.

Start-up costs

The software is free. Download it, and install it on a server. The wiki will show you how.

Cyco can run on Web hosting accounts costing as little as $10/month. Buy a domain name for $15/year, and you’re set. Out-of-pocket expenses to get started are about two pizzas and a latte. Not gourmet pizzas, either. Run-of-mill ‘zas.

The real cost is your time. That may not cost you out-of-pocket, but it will cost you. Of course, the time needed to maintain a good Cyco is much less than the time needed to create it.

Ongoing costs

You’ll have to pay for your hosting. You might start out paying $10/month. When you get a few adoptions, you’ll need more computing power. Maybe $50/month for 300 students.

Students will pay online with credit cards. You don’t want to handle the transactions yourself. You should buy services from PayPal, or someone else. It might cost you, say, 5% of the sale price per transaction.

You might do some marketing as well. Maybe go to conferences, and talk about your Cyco(s). Let’s guess $1,000 per semester.

Selling access

Students often pay more than $100 per textbook. You charge, say, $40. Happiness abounds!

You get all of that $40, to use as you will. A little goes to the credit card processor. A little goes to the Web hosting company. A little goes to marketing. The rest… that’s up to you.

Make the spreadsheet yourself. A popular Cyco could make a good deal of cash for the author. As it should.

Scenarios

A prof writes an intro algebra Cyco in Spanish, for students in Florida. It includes Floridian language, sports teams, etc. When a team plays, game stats are added to the Cyco the next day.

Two profs write an English Cyco for high-functioning autistic students. There aren’t many in one place, but there are enough across the country to make the effort worthwhile.

An accountant writes a Cyco on small business accounting. Because of differences in state laws, there are variants for Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, all based on the same core content. She charges $200 per student, which includes two hours of grading. Successful students get a certificate, and a URL where employers can verify their performance.

(Your scenario here.)

The point: sustainability

This isn’t about being part of the 1%. It’s about making good Cycos for students, Cycos that last for many years, getting better over time.

Making Cycos shouldn’t be a sacrifice. It should be just another work option for people.