Evolution of MOOCs

Moocs platforms have had an unusual role worldwide, which has once again put them in the spotlight, as a powerful tool for education to adapt to the new times. What has been the evolution of MOOCs to reach the current point?
The evolution of MOOCs

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Almost a decade since its launch, the evolution of MOOCs had stagnated, but this has changed since MOOCs have had a new air and aroused interest in the last 3 months, due to the pandemic and confinement worldwide . This boom may be key to driving digital transformation.


Almost 10 years have passed since, in October 2011, Stanford University started a pilot project in which they offered openly, online and free to the public, 3 of their usual courses for their students on campus. The pilot project created so much expectation and was so successful, with an exponential response from registered students, that after 12 months, they were already offering 250 online courses developed by 40 of the best universities in the world, mostly from the United States. The project was called Coursera.

In that year, the interest aroused by the public with Coursera, the Stanford project that grew in registered users at rates never seen in the educational environment (1.7 million students in 3 months), set off the alarms of those who had been working on similar projects. This is how a platform from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in alliance with Harvard University quickly entered the game: edX, which in its first open course managed to register 370.000 students. Another project, this time a private initiative, was Udacity, which in the same year registered 170.000 students for the course called “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”. In the old continent they also joined this movement creating at the end of 2012 Future learn, a MOOC platform that would bring together the best universities in the United Kingdom.

That year, 2012, was the year in which educational disruption had its great moment, due to this revolution, whose potential would not yet be known, but the movement was so strong that the New York Times would call it “The year of the MOOC".

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Almost a decade has passed, and a lot of water has flowed under the e-Learning bridge. Despite the fact that the world market is dominated by platforms that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, hundreds of MOOC platforms have been created that offer their academic offer, most with good standards, thanks to the promotion and democratization of new technologies. , fulfilling its main role of training in specific job skills.


MOOCs, which were initially designed to offer training in more technological topics, such as programming languages, artificial intelligence or data science, today cover all the topics that a professional in any area could be looking for. This is how they can be found MOOCs, in health areas, MOOCs on economics, MOOCs on law, MOOCs about Art, History, Philosophy, etc. There are many options and the important thing is that the interested party has the possibility to search and be clear about the specific need for it.



The fact that there are platforms with a voluminous academic offer with tens of thousands of courses, as is the special case of Udemy, may question the quality of the academic content. However, when different companies, such as Pinterest among others, entrust the training of their employees to the Udemy program for companies, it makes that imaginary have to be reconsidered. Platforms such as Coursera and edX have an offer of some 7.000 courses added together. It may be small when compared to the case of Udemy, but in reality it is a wide enough catalog to cover countless educational interests. Personally I must say that it is a delight to search through hundreds of great courses, the one that can accurately cover a specific interest. That is not very easy to find in any other scenario.

This unique feature becomes more evident when we think that each platform such as edX, Coursera or Future Learn brings together the offer of hundreds of world-class educational institutions, as well as prestigious companies that offer through the technological infrastructure of these “ Marketplace” of MOOCs, not only short-term courses, but more advanced certification studies in different technologies.

The quality of the material is more than guaranteed. That is, for example if Google offers through Coursera, a Professional Certificate in Automation in Information Technologies, composed of 6 MOOC courses, it will be very difficult to find a higher level academic offer on this subject in another scenario.


The pandemic has sparked renewed interest in virtual education. It is a fact. MOOC platforms have realized the important role they can play and have acted strategically and generously. Coursera, for example, has decided offer its entire catalog with access to certifications for a limited time for university students, who will be able to access through the agreement that their university implements with the platform, which does not go beyond completing a registration process directly by personnel of the interested university. On the other hand, Coursera has offered the world's governments the possibility of offering support through employment agencies, also providing access to certified courses to citizens who have lost their jobs. As if that were not enough, students from universities that have not officially processed the registration could individually register with their university email. With two months to go until the end of this benefit, which ends on July 31, Coursera has already gained 10 million new registrants.

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Without a doubt a success. Despite the fact that these users are not paying for their courses, the task of evangelization in the use of virtual education platforms will be of great help for the near future that the world will have to face, and without a doubt this strategy will bring benefits to medium term to platforms such as Coursera and others since there still seem to be mental barriers for virtual education to enter with greater force and be accepted as a training option by the majority.


The concept of MOOCs is based on the democratization of quality education. In the case of Coursera, edX or Future Learn, this materializes by offering access to classes from the most prestigious universities in the world. These platforms have evolved the studies to be offered, going from small short courses, to specialized programs, professional certificates and online undergraduate and postgraduate studies. However, other projects appealed to the concept of democratization, this time not opening quality education to millions of students, but rather offering the possibility of teaching to thousands of professionals, who do not necessarily have to have teaching experience, but rather The greatest input and differential will be their own experience in the subject matter of the course. That is how Udemy, one of the most popular virtual education platforms in the world, offers thousands of people the possibility of creating courses within its e-Learning system and offering them to tens of thousands of people. The quality in the case of Udemy, is guaranteed by a massive evaluation of thousands of students. Obtaining, for example, a rating of 4.7 out of 5 average, from, for example, 40.000 people, as they achieve, some of the most popular courses, should be a strong point of consideration when deciding on a Udemy course.

Some platforms have continued to search for new proposals and this is where we see cases such as edureka! that offers its students the possibility of having an almost personalized instructor who will guide them throughout the course. This concept reverses how MOOCs were initially conceived, where having a massive call would make rigorous monitoring very difficult, such as that experienced in face-to-face education, and for this reason a self-directed training system was proposed, through the automation of many processes. With edureka! Students have an educational experience that allows them to be monitored and supervised in real time by an instructor, and this, according to edureka! It has allowed them to achieve one of the highest completion rates, changing another aspect in which MOOCs, especially when it comes to the basic level, have shortcomings, such as having a high dropout rate.

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This model of monitoring and dedication naturally implies greater human resources to be viable, so the value of a course at edureka! they are more similar to those of face-to-face education, but with the versatility offered by virtual education. In fact, MOOCs have also evolved in this regard, since today there are a variety of increasingly complex and advanced options, such as Coursera, edX or Futures Learn, and edureka! by offering, through its technological infrastructure, undergraduate and graduate programs from prestigious universities.

The future of virtual education has had a new impetus in 2020, ironically as a consequence of covid-19. Virtual platforms can contribute to the boost that the jobs of the future should have. So far, we've heard about the high demand for developers and data scientists, but there's still little supply of training on those fronts. Many of those working on these tasks have been trained with short courses from Coursera, edX, Future Learn, edureka! or Udemy. The global crisis is forcing the adoption of digital transformation, and there are already several educational providers up to the task.



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