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MOOCs, Where They Are, Where They’re Headed

25 Oct, 2021

Today, the MOOC industry is booming on account of the pandemic and a skyrocketing demand for professional certifications. Coursera reached 82 million registered users this year and is one of the most popular MOOC platforms worldwide. edX, having launched its online campus at the onset of COVID-19, offers thousands of courses from the world’s top universities.

Even though providers are now generating more profit, engagement is still a major issue for most MOOCs. The number of students who register and pay upfront for courses is significantly higher than the rate at which students complete these courses. COVID-19 brought MOOCs back to the public radar, but the fundamental product hasn’t changed. With an asynchronous learning format and no instructor to personally give feedback, there is little room for interaction.

However, MOOCs are trying to improve their model with the bootcamps system. Unlike self-paced MOOCs, bootcamps can span a few weeks or even a few days. By requiring a set number of hours to complete the course, bootcamps provide hands-on practice and more interactive content. Best of all, they are fully remote, so they still offer flexibility.

Even so, traditional MOOCs struggle in that they were designed in a broadcasting model, thus limiting their interactive capabilities. MOOCs have made strides in the micro-credentials field, focusing on paid certificates and OPMs. Last year, Coursera allowed universities access to its catalog, so that students could earn credit for the platform’s courses. Still, MOOCs are primarily viewed as complementary to traditional four-year degrees, more suitable for the lifelong learner than the university student.

Alemira offers its own version of interactive learning with Practicum. Practicum is a bootcamp that offers specialized courses in web development, data analytics, and other tech-focused fields. Participants acquire the skills that can get them hired at less than half the price of a typical ‘big-name’ bootcamp. Models like Practicum pave the way for MOOCs to become more oriented in deliberative practice. Straightforward exercises incorporated with ‘gamified’ elements, a constant feedback loop, and cutting-edge technology help make MOOCs more engaging and worth the investment.

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