Are MOOC’s Really Dead?

MOOC or massive open online courses have been around since 2006 and experienced a peak around 2012. Many institutions rushed to get classes online in many of the available platforms, but over time it appears as if  the massive open movement has slowed down a bit. Even as the excitement of a free online classes began to subside platforms like edx and Coursera doubled down and reinvested in the promise of what these courses are capable of. It seems that the “free” aspect of MOOC’s began to take a more profitable turn. Many of the courses offered within the two platforms of edx and Coursera can be “audited” for free, but require a payment/subscription in order to receive certification.


However, these certifications became more intricate and partnership began to form outside of higher education with companies, such as Google and Microsoft. Edx began to offer MicroMasters series, that allows a student to gain credit for a masters once completing a set of classes. It seemed that these platforms were doing everything but offering degrees. That changed this past year when Coursera began offering master’s degree programs from schools like University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and HEC Paris. Coursera is not alone, with Georgia Tech using the edx platform to offer a plethora of STEM masters degrees, including a Master’s of Science in Analytics, priced under $10,000.


What does this major shift in massive online platforms mean for the rest of the online higher education community? Immediately what pops up is the theme of affordability, and the importance for online programs to keep tuition and the cost of books low. This is where the FIU Online Affordability Counts initiative can position FIU to take advantage of this change in dynamics. Institutions may wonder if learners can get an MBA from Illinois under $22k or a Masters from Georgia Tech for under $10k, why should students attend your particular institution? Online students need more than just online classes, they also need an entire university to support them before, during, and after graduation.

Some of these requirements are already implemented within FIU Online’s model. Our use of “Success Coaches” is to better prepare and connect our fully online students to the greater university community and this is an important aspect of online learning, since these students will eventually be FIU alumni. In order to be competitive in the ever-increasing online education market, FIU needs to continue to come up with initiatives that drive growth and progress. Maybe it’s time for FIU to have our own Massive Online movement and fully embrace the promise of distance education.


Luis Alvarado was a FIU Online instructional designer (2015-2018). His expertise includes the areas of emerging technology, learning theories, 21st Century instructional design models, user experience, and the incorporation of diverse modes of media into online courses. Luis applies sound instructional strategies developed through experience gained in higher education and government. He effectively structures course content, provides expert technical support, and advises faculty on the latest learning and interactive multimedia technology.

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