By Nick Anderson
Four years after the debut of free online courses from elite universities, the statistics on this unprecedented digital outreach to the world are staggering. Coursera, a leading platform for these courses, reports 15 million people globally have registered on the education Web site that distributes free interactive content from 120 institutions. They are not all just browsers and dabblers. The company counts 2.5 million “course completers.”
For comparison, the federal government reports about 17.5 million undergraduates enrolled in all U.S. colleges.
Which raises the question: What are all these new online learners seeking? Coursera surveyed them last year to find out. The primary answer was career advancement.
The new study, conducted with researchers from the universities of Pennsylvania and Washington, was published last month in the online Harvard Business Review. It should be read with the caveat that Coursera is a Silicon Valley startup seeking profit from digital higher education.
But the findings reinforce other signs that consumers and universities see the massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as a potential building blocks for careers. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which co-founded the nonprofit MOOC platform edX, this week announced the launch of a “MicroMaster’s” credential aimed at professionals who want to study supply chain management and possibly earn a master’s degree at a lower price than the norm.
[ Full article available at The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/10/08/global-online-college-courses-a-career-booster/ ]