Online learning grows while MOOC degrees slow

Online learning has revolutionised education and empowered millions of people across the world. The ability to remotely acquire an educational qualification or simply enhance your knowledge of any given subject, has certainly gained traction as internet access grows globally.

MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) saw around 10million more participants enrolling in 2019 over 2018 showing 10% year-on-year growth.  Much of the growth in these courses is seen in “micro-credentials”, which are certification-style qualifications that individuals choose to study to improve their skills. They are short, often “bite-size”, low-cost online courses that provide learners with a digital certification or a ‘digital badge’ when complete.

What’s becoming clear is that institutions are finding these shorter courses to be more affordable and effective than the full-blown degree courses.  Significant increases in numbers of participants is evidence of their popularity

Will MOOCs replace university-attended degrees?

That could be a concern for many universities who themselves may already offer, or are considering offering, online degree courses of their own.  However, while MOOCs in general are rising in number, degree-based online courses are showing slower growth.  The number of new MOOC degrees offered in 2019 was less than half the number released in 2018. (Source: ICEF Jan 2020).

While having a range of, albeit highly relevant, micro-credentials is a distinct plus in the job stakes, they may not match the commitment and depth of a full degree and the favoured route for that may well still be physical attendance at a university.  Added to the fact that the “university experience” is still regarded as a key reason young (and sometimes older) people are going to the expense and disruption of taking on a three-or-four-year degree course, college attendance offers a compelling proposition.

While MOOCs undoubtedly provide greater opportunity globally and more inclusive and diverse learning opportunities, it seems likely that the World’s universities will continue to see growing numbers of students – both domestic and international – filling their student halls in the years to come.

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