Dec 292015

One Size Fits All MOOCS

One Size MOOCs in 2015: Breaking Down the Numbers

By Dhawal Shah Dec 28, 2015
One Size MOOCs – Tom’s Comments:

Really, really, interesting statistics on the growth of MOOCS

The sad part is that in a one size fits all, software delivery model (this is the traditional MOOC), no one is being empowered with long term, deep, adaptive learning that measurably provides each individual with sustained performance improvement outcomes (WHAT!!!????)

Put another way, some participants (hopefully the middle 30%) are getting short term, superficial, initial understanding, which is soon forgotten. This means participants do not have information fluency, along with sustained, facilitated, reinforced and relevant individualized, correct application to measurably sustain individual performance improvement long term (isn’t this the objective of key information?)

The above statistics are like following the growth of facebook members, but being unable to tie that growth to measured, sustained, individual performance improvement outcomes (who really gets anything useful out of facebook, certainly not anything that would advance individual performance improvement in a specific job application)

Its hard to believe that with what we know about learning and what’s available in educationally innovative software, that we continue to promote a methodology that has been proven to be no better in deep learning outcomes than a large lecture (Look at #5, content knowledge is not enough)


Have massive open online courses emerged from the Trough of Disillusionment to the Slopes of Enlightenment? Wherever MOOCs belong on the Gartner Hype Cycle, one thing is clear: there are more courses and students now than ever before.

Student enrollments in MOOCs doubled this year. In fact, more people signed up for MOOCs in 2015 than they did in the first three years of the “modern” MOOC movement (which started in late 2011—when the first Stanford MOOCs took off). According to data collected by Class Central, the total number of students who signed up for at least one course has crossed 35 million—up from an estimated 17 million last year.

In 2014, Coursera claimed more student signups than Udacity, edX and all other MOOC providers combined. This year, Coursera accounted for slightly less than half of all MOOC students. One company to watch is FutureLearn, a UK-based company owned by The Open University, which grew its user base from 800,000 students in 2014 to nearly three million students this year—more than Udacity.

In 2015, 1,800 new courses were announced, taking the total number of courses to 4,200 from over 550 universities.



With a distinct focus on monetization in 2015, many MOOC providers and partner universities offered more courses covering in-demand skills in technology and business fields. The percentage of Computer Science and Programming courses grew more than 10 percent. This growth in technical and business courses has correlated with a decrease in the humanities and social science courses, but overall there is still a healthy balance of technical and non-technical courses.

Not much has changed in course distribution among providers. Coursera, edX and the Canvas remain the top three providers of courses. Kadezne, a MOOC platform optimized for arts education, was the only the MOOC provider to launch in 2015.


The share of English language courses has reduced slightly from 80% in 2014 to 75% in 2015, which can be attributed to a couple reasons. Overseas institutions, sometimes with the backing of local companies governments, are offering more MOOCs in local languages. (France Université Numérique and MiriadaX are a couple examples.) After English, Spanish and French are the biggest languages in which courses are offered. Courses are currently being offered in 16 different languages, including Basque and Estonian.

Top Searches

Class Central users ran over 250,000 searches using 60,000 search terms. These top 25 search keywords (in order) account for 13% of all searches: python, java, writing, statistics, english, computer science, machine learning, healthcare, data science, marketing, accounting, c, android. big data, finance, excel, psychology, spanish, music, project management, photography, javascript, programming, sql, french.

Top Courses

2,200 courses were offered for the first time in 2015. Based on a Bayesian average of more than 7,000 reviews written by Class Central, here are the top-rated courses. (Look what subject came in first!) we were able to rank the courses.

  1. A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment (Indian School of Business & Coursera)
  2. Introduction to Programming with MATLAB (Vanderbilt University & Coursera)
  3. The Great Poems Series: Unbinding Prometheus (OpenLearning)
  4. Marketing in a Digital World (UIUC & Coursera)
  5. Fractals and Scaling (Santa Fe Institute & Complexity Explorer)
  6. What is a Mind? (University of Cape Town & FutureLearn)
  7. Algorithms for DNA Sequencing (Johns Hopkins University & Coursera)
  8. Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (Monash University & FutureLearn)
  9. Programming for Everybody: Getting Started with Python (University of Michigan & Coursera)
  10. CS100.1x: Introduction to Big Data with Apache Spark (UC Berkeley & edX)

For more details, read our post on Best Online Courses of 2015.

Top Universities

Which universities created the highest-reviewed courses? Not the ones you would expect—or find in the latest issue of the Best Global Universities Rankings that U.S. News publishes every year. Below are the top-rated universities (which have all published more than five courses).

  1. Santa Fe Institute

One Size MOOCs – To read the entire article, click here


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Tom McDonald,; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752 one size