Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are a relatively new invention. Pioneered by flagship educational institutions worldwide, MOOCs are now offered by many universities, colleges, and other enterprises, big and small. The usual topics that are covered by these courses are computer sciences, math and other basic sciences, marketing, and numerous others. Of course, quality varies, but in general, the courses were started by well established educators who were able to find time and resources to create cutting edge, high quality content.
Many high quality courses were free in the beginning. There was an option to pay for a verified certificate for some. As time progressed, the dynamics have changed. More and more courses are appearing that either put a time limit on free content, or require registration fee upfront. Some platforms always used paid models. Now, even the platforms that had predominantly “free, open to all” type philosophy are being gradually changed.
This is natural. As users flood free platforms, operating and maintenance cost increases. As demand for content gets shaped by what students are looking for, more content needs to be developed.
It will be interesting to see how MOOCs evolve further. Will they become an advertising tool for colleges and universities to attract students or will they morph into new educational venues, where students will be able to get better knowledge in a subject, not a degree in a subject from a university.