I've really learned to enjoy opera (the art form not the browser) and while I've come to really enjoy Atlanta, the city only has a regional opera company. So I tried out the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcasts in a local movie theater here. I have to say the experience was quite amazing, the picture and sound was amazing. In many ways a better experience than watching the opera live at the Met, with close-ups and back stage interviews. It doesn't replicate the atmosphere of seeing an opera live but it does give people who don't have access to the Met a great opera experience.
Watching the opera made me think of an analogy to MOOCs. There is limited scaling we can do in a classroom or an opera house, but the Opera HD and MOOCs can scale tremendously with only moderate additional cost. A MOOC doesn't replicate the classroom experience but done well it can offer some advantages to a classroom.
So this seems like a win for the opera lover. But not every opera company benefits. I went to see the Parsifal on Met HD last Saturday instead of the Altanta Opera's Traviata. Even other great US opera companies like the Chicago Lyric might not get a huge audience if they tried broadcasting their operas in movie theaters. How does the analogy play out for universities and MOOCs?