Coursera announced recently it has registered one million students for its free online courses, while rival Udacity says it has more than 739,000 students signed up for its massive open online courses (MOOCs).
The idea of free online courses is attractive, even though no university credit is earned in many MOOCs. It helps that a number of top-flight universities have signed on with Coursera and Udacity has some of the best-known scholars in the country providing its educational material.
While a million registered students sounds impressive, some details—such as whether a student signed up for a course but didn’t actually follow through on the assignments—are not spelled out. However, such milestone numbers are the type of figures that will make news as the media tries to explain how education is coping in the age of high tech.