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With Coronavirus Rise, What Most Popular Online Courses Tell About Future (Hint: Tech + Business)

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been widely praised in technology news for applying digital methods to learning. A MOOC allows potential students all over the world to access courses, often from top-flight universities. MOOCs have been widely hailed for having the potential to spread learning and to democratize it.

How powerful are the online learning platforms? Yahoo! News recently reported that “The MOOCs Market is expected to grow by USD 17.70 bn during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 40% during the forecast period.”

The post notes the new report “MOOCs Market by Type, Subjects, and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2020-2024,”which “provides a holistic analysis, market size and forecast, trends, growth drivers, and challenges, as well as vendor analysis covering around 25 vendors.”

Coronavirus Increases Interest in Online Learning 

Indeed, with global threats from the coronavirus increasing exponentially, one might expect interest in online learning to grow. Forbes states: “China’s E-Learning Leaders Add $3.2 Billion As Coronavirus Fears Drive Students Online.” The post notes:

“The coronavirus outbreak has been hitting China’s economy hard as many businesses have had to temporarily shut down their operations amid tight quarantine rules. But measures to stop the spread of the illness have also become an unexpected boon for at least one industry: online education.”

“With the opening of schools pushed back to March and all extracurricular activities suspended, tens of millions of students have been told to go online to study. And the country’s providers of online tutoring services are suddenly experiencing a surge in interest from students and their parents.”

MOOCs apply digital access to learning.

What are the most popular courses on MOOCs? One of the leading MOOC suppliers, Coursera, recently released its most popular course list for 2018. Overall, 35 million people have taken a Coursera course, and 3.7 million have earned course certifications.

Their most popular courses last year were:

  1. Machine Learning, Stanford University
  2. Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects, McMaster University (Canada)
  3. The Science of Well-Being, Yale University
  4. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, Princeton University
  5. Algorithms, Part I, Princeton University
  6. English for Career Development, University of Pennsylvania
  7. Financial Markets, Yale University
  8. Introduction to Psychology, University of Toronto (Canada)
  9. Cómo hacer una tesis, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (Mexico)
  10. Chinese for Beginners, Peking University

Machine learning and related courses, such as algorithms, lead the pack.

Technology Knowledge Popular

What do these courses indicate about the future? As Coursera itself notes, innovative technology skills, ranging from machine learning and the algorithms that underlie it to cryptocurrencies, lead the pack in terms of what Coursera learners want to know. Eighty-three percent of Coursera students, according to the company, felt that they had received tangible career benefits.

That’s not surprising, since these technologies are expected are widely cited by business leadership to lead development and job creation. The worldwide market for machine learning, for example, is forecast to be roughly $8.8 billion by 2022, versus just $1.4 billion in 2017, according to CIO. In fact, CIO also points out that the number of job postings related to AI, as indicated by the number on Indeed, has risen 119% over the last three years. By 2020, AI is expected to be responsible for the creation of 2.3 jobs.

CIO also observes that demand is outpacing supply, especially of higher-end machine learning and AI professionals. Salaries range from $119,000 to $125,000. Many companies, such as Google, are offering courses in it as well as the MOOCs. So the popular courses indicate that MOOC learners are not only on pace with current hiring trends, but with future demand itself.

The other piece of the future, of course, is that it appears that global learning is equally important, judging by Coursera’s list. Beginning Chinese is in high demand, which could indicate interest in the culture and travel, of course – but could equally be spurred by a Chinese economy which may be slowing, but is still booming by world standards. English for Career Development may be accessed by folks wanting to succeed in business with more or deeper knowledge of English.