Decline seen in growth of MOOCs

Decline seen in growth of MOOCs

A new report from Class Central has indicated a decline in the rate of growth of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

These statistics indicating a decline appear in stark contrast with the marked growth that MOOCs, aiming to provide unlimited participation, experienced in 2018.

Course providers include Coursera, the largest MOOC provider with 45 million students; edX (24 million); Udacity (11.5 million); FutureLearn (10 million), and India’s Swayam (10 million).

Yet, despite a shift in what the report’s author Dhawal Shah termed as ‘the second wave of MOOC hype’ in 2018, ‘the year of MOOC-based degrees’, the numbers of current online learners remain in the multi-millions globally, and continues to grow.

Number of new MOOCs in 2019 less than half that of 2018

In 2019, only 11 new MOOC-based degrees were announced, growing the total number to 50. Whereas, in 2018, the figure was more than double that of 2019: 29 new degrees were announced, more than doubling the figure of the previous year (11 in 2017).

The Class Central report posed a potential explanation for this phenomenon, commenting that it might be the case that ‘MOOC providers got into an arms race of sorts and rushed to announce these degrees in 2018.’

110 million learners reached by ‘the modern MOOC movement’

In response to this report, ICEF Monitor stated that, despite this diminished pace of growth, ‘online learning is alive and well’.

In 2019, the addition of 10 million students enrolling in MOOCs to the global figure of 110 million resulted in a 10% growth for that year.

This evidently demonstrates their ongoing relevance as a higher education platform which continues to challenge the public’s perception of degrees.

Indian-based Swayam in particular represents a significant shift and far greater accessibility of higher education in India.

All of the courses available through the Swayam platform are free and, for students in public higher education institutions, as much as 20% of their degrees can be completed online via the platform.

Josephine Walbank - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Josephine Walbank is a reporter for Global Education Times (GET News) with a focus on education in the UK, Asia-Pacific, and Americas, and student experience and lifestyle news.

Josephine is an experienced journalist who previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Falmouth Anchor. She is also the former Deputy Editor of Voices, the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union’s publication, and has written for various food and lifestyle publications.

You can reach her at

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