Rise & Benefits of MOOCs Landscape: Democratising Education Globally



17 April, 2024

Rise & Benefits of MOOCs Landscape: Democratising Education Globally

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses. “Massive” refers to potential relationships among participants spread geographically, while “Open” denotes free but open access, open syllabi, and self-directed outcomes. “Online” denotes the wealth of information that may be found online, while “course” describes the organised online setting. They provide free access to higher education just with internet availability. MOOCs are thought to be a way to democratise education. These courses will give people the chance to learn from some of the world’s top educators, grow their personal networks, and advance their careers.

Most of those utilising these courses, according to studies to date, are post-secondary degree holders who are already employed and have faced few obstacles because higher education is still reasonably priced. In this article, we shall analyse the rise of MOOC and its linkages with democratising education around the globe.

What are MOOCs?

MOOCs are online courses with open access and limitless participation through the internet. They cover a broad range of topics, including business, computer science, and the humanities and arts. MOOCs let students interact with course materials at their own pace by having video lectures, tests, assignments, and discussion boards arranged in a usual format. MOOCs offer flexible, accessible, and often free or low-cost learning opportunities to individuals around the globe.

The Democratisation of Education

Online education has become more popular as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, its aftermath, and the closure of traditional educational institutions. The world’s educators shifted to both synchronous (live or in real-time teaching) and asynchronous (self-paced) teaching methods in response to this digital crisis, using e-learning platforms like MOOCs and LMS to maintain continuity and distribute content. MOOCs are responsible for democratising education by removing barriers to learning that were formerly imposed by location, cost, and availability.

Benefits of MOOC

MOOCs are game-changing in today’s scenario. Some of the important benefits of MOOCs are listed below.

  • Accessibility:

    No matter where you live or what your socioeconomic status is, with an internet connection you can access MOOCs. People who live in rural or underdeveloped areas who do not have access to traditional educational institutions will especially benefit from this accessibility.

  • Affordability:

    Many MOOC platforms provide courses at a far lower cost than regular college tuition or even free tuition. Because of its affordability, students who would not be able to pay for traditional higher education can still receive a valuable education.

  • Flexibility:

    MOOCs provide scheduling and pacing flexibility. Students can manage their education with obligations to their families, jobs, and other commitments since they have access to course materials whenever they choose and may study at their own speed.

  • Diversity of Content:

    MOOCs provide access to a broad range of courses and subjects, enabling students to follow their interests and take advantage of educational opportunities that might not be offered in their community colleges.

  • Professional Development And Career Advancement:

    Allows people to obtain degrees, certificates, and badges virtually, promoting professional growth. It increases earning potential by offering chances for ongoing professional growth.

Impact of MOOC on Education

The rise of MOOCs has significantly impacted the field of education:

  • Global Reach:

    MOOCs have brought together students from all over the world, forming a global learning community that is able to communicate, work together on projects, and exchange ideas across national and cultural barriers.

  • Lifelong Learning:

    MOOCs encourage lifelong learning by giving people a chance to refresh existing knowledge, pick up new skills, and remain employable in a constantly shifting labour market.

  • Development of Skills:

    In today’s economy, MOOCs provide relevant, employable skills that are in high demand. MOOCs assist students in gaining the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace, from leadership and communication to coding and data analysis.

  • Innovation in Education:

    The rise in popularity of MOOCs has encouraged innovation in pedagogy and educational technology. To improve the learning experience, academic institutions and online learning platforms are experimenting with novel teaching techniques like virtual reality simulations and adaptive learning algorithms.

Rise of MOOCs: Challenges Faced in Education

Even though MOOCs have significantly improved education, they face a number of challenges.

  • Low Completion Rates:

    Time restrictions or a lack of desire sometimes cause learners to begin MOOCs but struggle to finish.

  • Retention of Learners:

    It might be challenging to maintain students’ interest throughout the course.

  • Quality Assurance:

    It can be difficult to guarantee uniform quality across various platforms and courses.

  • Evaluation and Certification:

    Issuing valid certificates for finished courses is difficult and has different levels of acceptance.

  • Digital Divide:

    Participation in MOOCs may be hampered by limited access to technology and the internet.

  • Language and Cultural Barriers:

    Non-native speakers may not be accepted into courses taught mainly in English, and learners from varied backgrounds may not find culturally irrelevant material appealing.

  • Absence of Tailored Help:

    Unlike typical classroom settings, MOOCs frequently do not offer the same level of tailored help.


Related: Online Education Revolution: Initiatives Taken by the Indian Government

Key Participants in the MOOC Landscape

There are several key participants (both for-profit and nonprofit) that have emerged in the MOOC market. Let’s discuss them in detail.

MOOC Platform Description
edX A non-profit organisation managed collaboratively by Berkeley, Harvard, and MIT, offering a variety of courses.
Coursera is a for-profit organisation founded by Stanford computer science professors that provides a wide range of paid courses.
Udacity Udacity is another for-profit venture initiated by a Stanford computer science professor, offering courses in various fields.
Udemy A for-profit learning management system allows anyone to create and sell courses on diverse subjects.
SWAYAM An Indian-made learning management system offering academic and industry-specific skill courses, expanded through partnerships with NPTEL and AICTE, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Khan Academy Created by Mr. Khan for his family, it now hosts over 3,000 instructional videos on various topics, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Canvas A platform through which schools pay teachers to promote and offer their MOOCs to potential students.

In addition to this, government organisations have created a number of MOOC platforms for training. For example, NCERT’s DIKSHA is an e-content repository for pupils and focuses on teacher training. Similarly, higher education institutions have implemented platforms such as SWAYAM to provide Faculty Development Programs (FDPs) and Refresher Courses in a variety of multidisciplinary areas. In the near future, we’ll likely witness the emergence of a few more MOOCs; however, once the real significant participants start to appear, we can anticipate their decline.


Millions of students around the world now have more flexible, affordable, and accessible learning options because of the growth of MOOCs, which have democratised education. MOOCs can revolutionise education and enable people to pursue their academic and professional goals regardless of their circumstances or background as long as they continue to develop and innovate.

Future trends for MOOCs suggest more incorporation of cutting-edge technology like augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence integrated into an LMS. These developments seek to solve some of the present issues while improving the immersive learning environment.

The increase in popularity of MOOCs and other online learning LMS platforms, together with the overall evolution of online education, has completely changed the nature of education. The growth of e-learning highlights the necessity for ongoing adaptation to fulfil the changing demands of students in the digital age, as traditional institutions struggle with the shifting dynamics. Therefore, MOOC platforms and employers are increasingly forming collaborations that offer clear routes from education to employment.

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