6. Political, Social and Economic Drivers of MOOCs

6.7. The Future of MOOCs

It will be interesting to see if MOOC mania continues as the economy grows.  Class Central provides ongoing monitoring of developments in MOOCs around the world. The overall numbers up to 2019 are impressive but the number of learners added in 2018 was just 20 million, which was less than 23 million for the previous two years (Shah, 2019). So the rate at which new users are coming into the MOOC space is decreasing.

However, MOOCs continue to evolve. For a start, there has been a slow growth in complete degrees that can be offered through MOOCs. In 2018 there were 45 degrees on offer. While this is a significant development, though, the numbers are still quite small, given the number of conventional degrees available worldwide. The other main market is corporate training. Business models are also evolving with revenues continuing to increase into 2018, with Coursera alone recording $140 million in revenues. However, although the number of MOOC courses offered continues to increase, the average number of students is decreasing as more choices become available. 

The rate of adoption also varies considerably by country. For instance, in 2017, only 18% of Canadian post-secondary institutions were offering MOOCs, compared with 82% that were offering fully online courses for credit (Donovan et al., 2018). However, the growth of MOOCs in China, India and Europe continues apace. What is not clear is whether the institutions providing MOOCs are getting any direct financial returns for their investments as distinct from the platform providers.