Courseras growth slows down

MOOC's: Online learning is established - but growth rates are shrinking

01/23/2020 9:20 am Age: 1 year

• In 2019 approx. 10 million more learners enrolled in MOOCs, as in 2018 • Worldwide there are 110 million learners enrolled • The number of newly offered MOOC degrees fell in 2019 by 50%. • The number of micro-credentials and other short online certificate programs continues to grow. • India-based SWAYAM is breaking the barriers between online and traditional university systems


In 2018 there was a rush from universities to the four most important MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) providers - Coursera, edX, FutureLearn and Udacity. The provision of degrees has been a development in the MOOC space because (a) it takes learners more time and money than other types of MOOC courses, and (b) it gives learners the opportunity to graduate through online study a top university.

However, according to Class Central's latest market analysis, the momentum for offering new degrees from MOOC providers appears to be slowing.

The background to online degrees

In most cases, degrees are believed to provide more convincing evidence of competency than micro-credentials. Sean Gallagher writes in his book The Future of University Credentials, that "they represent a higher level of commitment, depth, achievement and perseverance" and "an achievement that differs from the mere mastery of knowledge and skills in a particular program."

The ability to offer MOOC degrees enables universities to expand their programs and income models. "Exclusivity isn't the brand differentiator it used to be," said Michael Feldstein, editor of the E-literate Blogs and advisor to help universities choose partners to start their programs with (so-called OPMs or online program managers) The Atlantic . "The first-class schools no longer have to be exclusive to maintain their reputation."

So far, experts have agreed that there are big differences in how well universities and their selected OPM and MOOC providers deliver their degrees.

Feldstein adds, “Whether you're reaching students in other parts of the world or nontraditional students in the United States, universities aren't wired to do it yet. You never had to ...

Slower growth

In 2018, Coursera, edX, FutureLearn and Udacity released 29 new degrees. In 2019 there were only 11 new deals from these providers. This is still growth, but obviously at a more modest pace.

Meanwhile, the number of “traditional” MOOC courses leading to micro-IDs, badges and certificates is growing faster. Gallagher writes in Harvard Business Review : "By using algorithms and running at really disruptive prices, these programs are cheaper to run and market for universities and cheaper for students."

In other words, it seems cheaper and more effective for universities to invest in micro-programs than to expand their traditional study offerings.

Millions of new users for MOOCs

The number of new MOOC users is growing to varying degrees on the four platforms. Coursera - valued at over USD 1 billion in 2019 - rose from 37 million to 45 million in 2019. EdX rose from 18 million to 24 million; Udacity rose from 10 million to 11.5 million; The British company Future-learn recorded an increase of more than one million users in 2019 (a total of 10 million).

At the end of 2018, Class Central had 14 million users of XuetangX in China. Class Central doesn't offer 2019 numbers for the platform, but it's now 24 million, according to XuetangX.

Overall, Class Central estimates that 110 million people worldwide were enrolled in MOOCs in 2019 based on the MOOC platforms whose data was available to them.

SWAYAM hopes to revolutionize Indian higher education

Outside of western MOOCs and XuetangX, there are millions of learners in SWAYAM based in India (10 million) . SWAYAM, which offers all courses for free to expand access to higher education in India, is also integrated into the traditional Indian higher education system. Public universities can offer students the opportunity to complete up to 20% of their degrees online at SWAYAM. It's a fascinating model: “Twice a year, the institutes select SWAYAM courses for which they will award points in the coming semester. Note that they can choose courses offered by other institutions so that they can leverage the strengths of schools across the country to create more comprehensive curricula. For example, they can use SWAYAM to offer high-demand courses that they don't have qualified instructors for on campus.

Students can then register for relevant, credit-worthy online courses and, upon completion, be credited towards their degree. Courses typically include watching lectures, submitting assignments, and taking an exam at one of 1,000 exam centers across India. "

Slower growth, but still big numbers

The number of new users on MOOC platforms may not be growing as fast as it has been in years past, but the number of users is still astounding. As Ray Schroeder in Inside Higher Ed notes:

“The MOOC did not die. Rather, it has grown into a mature, fully functional study platform that serves millions of learners around the world every day. On-site learning is too extensive to ignore. It is changing the learning environment worldwide. In less than a decade, this phenomenon has moved from the fringes of education to the fastest growing format for certificates and degrees. “Despite grumbling about low graduation rates at many MOOCs, a 2015 in Harvard Business Review study published that 72% of respondents who completed individual MOOCs reported career benefits and 61% reported educational benefits. "

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