Whatever your opinion of them, you can’t deny that MOOCs have come a long way in the last few years. To help put the massive online courses into some perspective, Alex Cusack, a contributing writer at Moocs.com, a blog that covers news about MOOCs (edited by Zachary Davis, a producer for HarvardX, a spin-off of edX) shared this handy infographic.
Cusack, a consultant in educational technology, regularly works with corporations and universities looking to design online education programs. And he’s a MOOC alum himself; his own experience with the courses (he has variously started, completed and dropped out of classes offered by Coursera, edX, Udacity and Udemy) has informed his take on the topic. As he told me over the phone, he became drawn to MOOCs when he realized, “I could attend Stanford-level classes and get objective content at basically free or little cost.” As a business major at Azusa Pacific University in southern California, that seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.
So what did Cusack find surprising while researching the infographic? The fact that the biggest user base for MOOCs is males over the age 26 who already have bachelor’s degrees or, as he put it, an “already over-served market in terms of education accessibility.” But later data suggest that even though the percentage of students signing up for MOOCs in the world’s poorest countries is low, it still amounts to over 20,000 students. Cusack said he wasn’t able to include that detail in the infographic, which was published before the paper came out, but take a look at what he was able to find out:
“Questions Worth Asking” is a new editorial series from TED in which we pose thorny questions to those with a thoughtful, relevant (or irrelevant but still interesting) take. This week we’re asking, “What’s next for MOOCs?” See also a Q&A with edX president, Anant Agarwal and read a conversation between Khan Academy’s Salman Khan and Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity.