Massive open online courses (MOOCs) had a banner year in 2015. According to an EdSurge report, enrollment doubled to more than 35 million students, with more than 4,200 courses offered by 550 colleges and universities.
There were 2,200 courses offered for the first time in 2015, with computer science and programming courses growing by more than 10%. The MOOC listing provider Class Central analyzed reviews of the courses and determined that A Life of Happiness and Fulfilment, offered by Indian School of Business and Coursera, beat Introduction to Programing with MATLAB, offered by Vanderbilt University and Coursera, as the top-rated class of the year.
Issuing credentials to students was a top MOOC trend of 2015, with more than 100 credentials available from providers. Credentials have become the main source of revenue for both Udacity and Coursera, while edX focused on providing MOOC students with credit by teaming with Arizona State University on its Global Freshman Academy and working on partnerships with credit-granting schools.
Many MOOC providers no longer offer free certificates upon completion of a class and are now targeting high school students trying to prepare for college. The platforms also offer more than 800 self-paced classes with soft deadlines that give students plenty of flexibility for completing a course.
“In 2016, we can expect to see a lot more credentials and credits,” Dhawal Shah, founder of Class Central, wrote for EdSurge. “But as MOOC providers try to aggressively monetize, early adopters many find that critical components of the learning experience will no longer be free.”