Massive open online courses are distant learning courses which can be accessed over the internet by interested people. They cover a wide range of topics, can be accessed by an unlimited number of participants, and often provide certificates from recognized universities upon completion. Massive open online courses generally provide a variety of course material such as reading material, filmed lectures, and assignments. Some of them also offer interactive forums for students, lecturers, and other stakeholders. Distant learning previously referred to correspondence courses where the student interacted with the educational institution by post. However, this model witnessed a high attrition rate with only a few people completing the entire course. With the rising acceptance of the internet, distant learning became online-based, leading to the invention of massive open online courses which were introduced around 2006 and their name coined in 2008 by University of Prince Edward Island’s Dave Cormier. Massive open online courses gained popularity around 2012. The market comprises different types of organizations including massive open online course providers, educational universities, venture capitalists, and non-profit organizations (such as the National Science Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Venture capitalists active in the massive open online course market include Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and New Enterprise Associates. Several premier universities are also associated with these courses such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Harvard University.

The market for massive open online courses is primarily driven by the growing need for online executive programs for working individuals, additional skills among professionals, competitiveness in a job role, and professional training in various subjects. To cater to these needs, several players in the massive open online course market are currently offering executive programs for professionals. The fee can range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars depending on the course undertaken, motivating the global market. Additionally, the growing penetration of the internet has been leading to better awareness regarding these courses. Furthermore, the rising cost of the traditional mode of education coupled with the presence of reliable online training courses are some of the other factors positively impacting the market for massive open online courses. However, concerns regarding the acceptability of certificates from massive open online courses in the industry and other educational institutes have been restraining the market to some extent. Taking into consideration the growing number of subjects covered by massive open online courses and their ease of access, the market is estimated to foresee numerous growth opportunities during the forecast period.

The global market for massive open online courses has been segmented on the basis of stream into the following categories: business management, science, humanities, computer science & programming, and engineering. In terms of region, the market has been distributed over North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, and Middle East & Africa (MEA). North America was the leading market in 2016 followed by Europe and Asia Pacific and is predicted to retain its position during the forecast period.

Key companies in the massive open online courses market include Coursera (U.S.), edX, Inc. (U.S.), Instructure, Inc. (U.S.), Udacity, Inc. (U.S.), iversity Learning Solutions GmbH (Germany), and WizIQ (India).

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Massive Open Online Course Market