Friday, November 20, 2020

Creating a New Model for MOOCS

In 2008, massive, open, online courses burst onto the higher education landscape when two Canadian researchers launched a course on the theory of connectivism that enrolled 25 students on the campus of the University of Manitoba and another 2,300 learners worldwide online.

The scalability of MOOCs became clear three years later, when a team of professors at Stanford offered a free online course on artificial intelligence to 160,000 students across the globe. By 2012, three companies — Udacity, Coursera, and edX — were producing MOOCs, and educators began predicting that the online platforms would disrupt the future of higher education.

Fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, MOOCs are now experiencing an unprecedented boom as millions of people have signed up for these free online courses. Since mid-March, more than 20 million learners have registered for a class with Coursera, the largest MOOC platform, a 360 percent increase from the same period last year. And edX, the next largest MOOC provider, has seen an uptick of 10 million new users since the pandemic began, more than twice the amount that joined in all of 2019.

“The pandemic has been transformative for many institutions,” said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois Springfield, who organized a MOOC in 2011. “They have awakened to online learning. It could take years to tame a mutating virus, all the while universities will have to cope with periodic campus outbreaks. Online learning will become a mainstay of learning delivery among the institutions that survive.”

This article appeared on the website Unbound in November 2020.