Paying MOOC students are on the rise

MOOC student in an alternative credentials course

The pursuit of alternative credentials is on the rise. Platforms like Udacity, edX and Coursera are maturing, and the job market is starting to recognize their certifications.

In the year 2008, the term MOOC was coined to define mass online education, whose aim was to spread knowledge freely and without restrictions. At present, most online educational programs are still free even though not all are open access. A recent report showed there is a small decrease in enrollments. However, the number of students in paid courses augmented significantly.

The pursuit of alternative credentials is on the rise. Platforms like Udacity, edX and Coursera are maturing, and the job market is starting to recognize their certifications. The leading MOOC search engine platform, Class Central, reported MOOC consumption statistics in 2017, and results show an increasing paid course enrollment.  

Key findings

  • There are 78 million students enrolled in MOOCs. There were only 20 million new learners signed up for their first MOOC in 2017 –fewer than the 23 million that signed up in 2016.
  • Coursera paying users increased 70% in 2017 compared to 2016.
  • Udacity has more than 50,000 users registered in its Nanodegree programs.
  • The number of courses offered grew from 6,850 to 9,400 in just one year.
  • More than 800 universities around the world offer at least one MOOC.
  • More than 500 MOOC credentials are available through different platforms.

Top 5 MOOC platforms

  1. Coursera - 30 million users.
  2. edX - 14 million users.
  3. XuetangX - 9.3 million users (biggest Chinese platform).
  4. FutureLearn - 7.1 million users.
  5. Udacity - 5 million users.

MOOC monetization

According to Class Central, Education Institutions and MOOC platforms can monetize their offer of alternative credentials in 6 different ways

  • Free courses.
  • Certificates.
  • Micro-credentials.
  • College credits.
  • Online degrees.
  • Corporate training.

MOOCs are expanding and their use is being adapted to meet the demands of a changing labor market. Alternative credentials through platforms such as Coursera, edX or Udemy are becoming an integral part of education. We are facing a new type of student who will be trained throughout his life, who will develop skills in online courses and is willing to pay for certifications or college credits if necessary.