Remember music? Today: streaming. Yesterday: CD:s. But, there was also something important in the middle: iTunes/Piracy. The industry developed in phases. Things that many assumed to be “fixed and final”, during the road, wasn´t. Now, could what recently happened in the US-based part of the MOOC-industry be a sign of a new phase upcoming soon?
Today the existing MOOC-platforms have been around for nearly 10 years. How well have the actually developed over these years?
Well, on one hand that have increased, heavily, and that is impressing. Today platforms like Coursera, Edx, Xuetang, FutureLearn etc have about 100 million subscribers – some less, some more. But how big is actually the potential? Several billion people. We have about 7.5 billion people on the globe, and at least 50 % of them are potential “students”. It thinking in that way, these platforms suddenly become small, like peanuts.
Adding to that: How many universities, if that assumed to be a relevant comparison (it actually is not: professional education is tremendously big, and not included then) do actually exist on the globe? Actually; I´m not really sure if anyone really knows the answer on that question. What a university is, or is not, is very different all over the globe and there is no UN-based-sanction-system existing that can help us to make sure that a specific university is, or is not, a university. So, call yourself a university if you like, and it is very likely that you also would get away with it (depends on the country you are in). It means that no-one, no-one, does really know how many universities there are on the globe.
Anyhow. Lets say it is about, at least 25 000 universities on the globe – still not professional education included.
Now, each one of them might have, lets say 10 000 students, some are bigger and some a smaller, and then you get, at least 250 000 000 students.
Compare that to the size of existing MOOC-platforms, then there still is a huge potential left.
How fast have the MOOCs then increased since they started about 10 years ago? Well, if you look on the curves, they definitely have increased every year, but not in the same speed during the last years, as they did in the beginning (that is by the way the reason why Xuetang nowadays seem to become far bigger than for instance Coursera and Edx…the chinese market is bigger and the growth of speed there seem faster than in for instance USA and Europe). Could several of them even be levering out soon?
Will that mean that this phenomenon is about to fade out soon? Not likely. Absolutely not likely. The market is tremendously big, with lot of actors interested in taking it. Adding to that: the power within digitalization is so tremendously strong that the world will not go backwards.
Just consider this…
Assume you where Andrew Ng at this moment and gave an AI-course on for instance Coursera, and got about 2 million (!) students (just imagine the size of that “physical classroom” he would need at Stanford for doing that off-line).
Then add that at least 1 % of the students that have enrolled, actually far more in average on the MOOCs, is also paying for a certificate…lets say 50 dollars each. How much money does that then become?
A single on-line-course can, already today, be a million dollar business.
And sometimes money matters.
And then…imagine taking at least some of that money and putting back into your venture. Put it in pedagogical development for instance, maybe the next edition of that course (don´t imagine what could be done if you put that money into marketing instead).
How good could that course not then become, and how many students would then get that time? Perhaps 20 million students, instead of 2 million students, or what you think?
The power within digitalization, a world where we actually can achieve “far more for far less”, is so strong that it actually is fundamentally impossible to imagine “e-learning” to blow over, even if the existing MOOC-platforms might not become the final business-structure.
So, in total, what we are in at this moment might just be a “middle-phase”, and if things get stuck a bit during its way forward, then it is reasonable to expects something will happen in order to create a new situation where e-learning can develop even further than what it already has done.
By the way; did you notice that Stanford, one of the owners to Coursera, just recently decided to move several on-line-courses to EdX? And EdX happen to be a competitor to Coursera in some sense. Shortly after that, they also became institutional member of EdX. Here:
Could that be a sign of us all soon is about to see some kind of radical change of some of the existing MOOC-platforms? Could then a new phase in the development of e-learning be on the horizon?
iTunes never became the final digital structure for music. A bit later on in time we got streaming, that outperformed iTunes. And perhaps the existing MOOCs just should be seen just like iTunes.
If that is the case; digital education have not really started yet.