MOOCs See Rapid Growth, Offer Premium Content For A Fee


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) have been around for a while, initially starting as free courses, especially in humanities and technology related subjects and gradually expanding to fields including business related studies. Having seen rapid growth with enrolment of more than 35 million in the past four years and doubling the enrolments in 2015 compared to previous year, it is also offering premium courses for a fee.

This data released by MOOC aggregator Class Central says at present, more than 4,200 MOOC courses are on offer. Interestingly, 756 courses are offered in Business & Management sector including Leadership, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Strategic Management and Industry specific Business Analytics and Intelligence. Science follows next with 549 courses, followed by Social Sciences (515) and Computer Science (497).

Education technology company Coursera also notes the popularity of business studies saying that among its 10 most popular courses are Financial Management, Negotiation, and Business Management.

The rapid growth in MOOC is attributed partly to rapid advances in technology. In the initial years, issues like lack of bandwidth stymied much of the efforts in offering video-based courses. A recession in the first decade of the century also saw the demise of pioneers in the sector like DigitalThink, NinthHouse and others.

Now, the bandwidth issue has been resolved and advances in technology make it possible to share the content across a wide range of platforms including mobile phones.

So all that anyone interested has to do is to search for the right course, register and pursue it from home, while travelling or anywhere else. You complete the assignments within the allotted time frame and submit them to get the credits.

Online learning platforms set up by Business Schools like Harvard offer tests and accreditation for a fee like Credentials of Readiness (CORe), Nanodegrees offered by Udacity, founded by Stanford graduates  Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig and Xseries by EdX. While Udacity is a for-profit venture, EdX is a non-profit initiative undertaken jointly by MIT, Harvard and Berkeley.

What goes into the package? CORe, for example, aimed at novices at business, offers three distinct courses–Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting—bundled together in an 8 to 10 week program taught by Harvard Business School faculty. The Credential cost is $1800 and credit cost $3600.

Increasingly, MOOCs providers are offering most of their content for free or during initial trial. The charges come in for higher-end content, accreditation or more comprehensive premium offering. Thus a student who opts for a basic package could always upgrade it for a fee at a later stage.

Who exactly goes in for such courses? Practically anyone interested in developing their skills in a fast changing job market where rapid advancement of technology and other factors are creating new opportunities and making some of the work redundant.

Thus, from very young people at the start of their career to middle level executives to veterans in the field are all into MOOC courses. In fact, Coursera CEO Rick Levin says 75% of those enrolled with the platform are above University graduates age.

Then, with top Universities and others jumping into the fray, the quality of the content itself is improving. While most of MOOCS have feedback to practices and assignments generated by computer, critical thinking and reflection may not be factored in.

For assessment, peer-2-peer tutoring and even peer & self-grading are used. With more than 10,000 students assessing and giving grades to other students, worldwide communities of students are formed. Such large numbers have the advantage that even a question posted in the middle of the night is likely to be answered correctly in a short time. (Image Courtsey :

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