WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Shortly after the “Big Three” MOOC providers launched in 2012, nearly everyone focused on user numbers as a sign of their scale and reach. For anyone still keeping tabs on the numbers race, Udacity, Coursera and edX recently shared new figures.
EdX shared it hit the 5 million student mark in August. That same month, Coursera claimed 15 million registered users to accompany news of its latest funding round. And in a recent interview with The Economist, Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun said the company serves “some 4 [million] registered users worldwide, and about 60,000 working on nanodegrees at anyone one time.” He also added that more than 60 percent of Udacity students complete their courses.
All three companies offer free content to students. But to put these user numbers in context, it’s worth noting the different target audiences and revenue models between the companies. Udacity no longer works with universities, focusing solely instead on paid “nanodegree” programs designed in collaboration with high-tech companies to prepare learners for employment. Coursera designs courses in partnership with universities, but has begun ramping up job-relevant “Specialization” programs that award certificates for a fee. EdX works with universities to build online programs (such as Arizona State University’s Global Freshman Academy) and also white-labels its platform to other organizations for a fee.