As Higher Education Demand Rises, MOOC Marketplace Grows Rapidly

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are attracting millions of students around the world as an affordable — and usually free — education option. It is estimated that there are more than 2 billion potential learners around the world today and more than 70% of those are unable to afford a college degree.

Josh Bersin, founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte, a provider of research-based membership programs in human resources (HR), talent and learning, writes in Forbes that a college degree is more important today than ever. McKinsey, global management consulting firm, estimates that college-educated workers will have a three-fold advantage in salaries and opportunities by 2020.

According to Bersin, the MOOC market has exploded. In November, Coursera secured another $20 million in funding, bringing their total investment to $63 million, compared to edX‘s original $60 million funding by MIT and Harvard.

Why all the investment? Because this market opportunity is massive and building these online courses is expensive, Bersin writes. Adding to this hot market for college, there are hundreds of millions of post-secondary students and professionals who will flock to branded degree courses in a huge way. As the MOOC certification market matures these individuals will find online education more and more valuable every quarter.

Despite people's comment on the low completion rates for MOOCs and Sebastian Thrun of Udacity's unhappiness with his course's impact, enrollment in MOOCs is rapidly growing. Search engine giant Google has put their engineering team onto the edX platform.

The MOOC providers are expected to launch online degree programs to target the more than 2 billion potential students around the world. Recently, Udacity teamed up with AT&T and Georgia Tech to deliver an online masters degree in computer science.

The MOOC companies are trying lots of interesting things to attract more and more people. Coursera now offers business programs from Wharton and Rice. EdX is licensing its platform to any educational entity or government who wants to produce and distribute education, while Udemy has expanded its corporate online learning offering.

Professionals networking website LinkedIn recently announced that it formed partnerships with Coursera, EdX,, Pearson, Skillsoft, Udacity and Udemy to offer a direct to profile certifications beta program.

This new feature could be big: imagine your online LinkedIn Resume storing all the completed courses and certifications you've achieved. That's a way to really get credit for all the online education you've completed, according to Bersin.

The corporate training marketplace seems to be interested in working with MOOCs. According to Bersin, their research shows that many companies are interested in exploring the use of MOOCs for corporate training.

Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, and edX are all starting to license courses and their platforms to businesses and for-profit education companies, a trend which will continue to grow.

Bank of America recently partnered with Khan Academy to create, a co-branded MOOC to educate consumers on personal finance. SAP developed the openSAP MOOC platform to educate its ecosystem of developers and partners on SAP technologies.

Yahoo has decided to reimburse employees for the cost of verified course-completion certificates from Coursera. Online retailer 1-800-Flowers announced that it will create an online education portal on the Udemy platform for its network of independent florists.

While this is still a young market, the demand is there and we expect it to grow exponentially in the coming years, Bersin writes.

12 3, 2013
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