COVID-19 drives considerable growth in demand for MOOCs

The pandemic has accelerated the world’s digital transition, increasing appetites for online learning and causing a surge in the market for Massive Open Online Courses

With the pandemic forcing the world to move online and accelerating the digital transition across the global education sector, the demand for online learning – including for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – has surged considerably in recent months, a new report has revealed.

The findings, recently published by Future Market Insights (FMI), shows that MOOC enrolments have soared among school-age pupils, college students, and older learners alike, with researchers forecasting an expected growth of 16.5% CAGR in the international market for MOOCs by 2030.

MOOCs across humanities, business management, and science-based subjects have particularly excelled, with the accessible nature and propensity for unlimited participation via dedicated web portals, regardless of location, elevating global enrolments.

With Unesco reporting that around 825 million learners were still affected by school closures as of 12 January this year, the majority of the population are turning to e-learning providers to support home learning and encourage personal development during this difficult time. Recent research by OnCrawl and Pi Datametrics revealed that searches for terms relating to online education grew more than 100% in 2020.

According to a 2017 report published at the second International Conference on Modern Management, Education Technology, and Social Science (MMETSS 2017), the MOOC industry in the US, China and India saw 23 million first-time enrolments in 2016 alone. On top of this, the total number of MOOCs offered by universities increased from over 700 in 2016 to 6,850 in 2017.

Experts predict that this  growth trend will continue over the next nine years, and that demand for digital training, or CPD (continuing professional development) programmes will also soar. Postgraduates are expected to remain the most dominant MOOC end-users throughout the forecast period (2020–2030).

In terms of geography, the report presents North America as the leader of the global MOOC industry, with Canada standing as the regional hub for this form of learning. In terms of lucrative emerging markets, South Asia and the Pacific are well-placed to thrive, expected to exhibit the highest growth rate over the next few years.

Commenting on the findings, an FMI analyst commented: “With digitisation gaining rapid traction, the demand for Massive Open Online Courses has increased significantly over the past decade. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the demand for MOOCs across the globe. This trend is likely to continue even after the pandemic passes. With governments around the world taking initiatives to make education and training accessible to all, the market is expected to gain impetus in the coming years.”

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