10 of the Best MOOC Providers

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With the growing number of connected devices, high enrollment rates, and the increasing demand for low-cost, high-quality education, MOOC providers are poised to grow exponentially over the next several years.

As a reminder, MOOCs stands for Massive Open Online Courses and are a form of distance learning. Although online education has been around for many years, MOOCs are seen as disruptive technology for education because of their massive scale and modern data-driven educational approach. They bundle video lectures, quizzes, assignments, and tests together with a community forum for a social experience. Grading is achieved by a combination of automated feedback and peer review. Certificates of completion are generally available for free, with an extra cost for identity-verified certificates which aim to provide proof of student performance.

While the technology is still improving, the learning experience is both enjoyable and satisfying.

From my personal perspective, there are four areas that stand out for different MOOC providers:

  • Forum interaction is a huge bonus for anyone who likes to interact with others in a more social context. Not only does this make learning more fun, but the buzz of energy from tens of thousands of student participants helps motivate engagement and course completion. I believe the clear leader for forums is Coursera.
  • MOOCs present information in different ways. Generally, most if not all MOOCs involve teaching through video. But some MOOCs make better use of the platform technologies, such as HTML5, to enhance learning and understanding. Some MOOCs offer speed-variable video, which is a real boon for watching videos several times over to help concepts sink in. Other MOOCs use integrated click-and-drag features for quizzes—for which edX is a clear standout. An English Grammar class, for example, used a click-and-drag "quizlet" to test understanding of various parts of grammar usage.
  • Another way MOOC providers differentiate themselves is how they structure courses. We're hard-wired to enjoy stories, and FutureLearn takes advantage of this fact with an intuitive, natural, sequential lesson flow. The Introduction to Journalism course was exceptional in this regard. A story is woven into the six-week course that keeps students hooked and looking forward to the next lesson to discover more.
  • Perhaps the most powerful student engagement tool of all is Gamification. This involves rewarding students as they reach various learning objectives. It appeals to our competitive, goal-driven nature. Australia's OpenLearning offers a variety of gamification badges for successful learning outcomes and appreciation for community support within forums. Badges give students a sense of accomplishment and peer recognition for their contributions.

Here is a list of 10 of the leading MOOC providers that feature courses offered by accredited and elite Universities from around the globe.

10 of the Best MOOC Providers.

Our mission is to provide universal access to the world’s best education.

Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

At edX, we believe in the highest quality education, both online and in the classroom.

Through our institutional partners, the xConsortium, along with other leading global members, we present the best of higher education online, offering opportunity to anyone who wants to achieve, thrive, and grow.

Our aim is to become a leading resource for learners and learning worldwide by staying focused on the goals and principles set forth when forming edX:

Our goals

  • Expand access to education for everyone
  • Enhance teaching and learning on campus and online
  • Advance teaching and learning through research

Our principles

  • Nonprofit
  • Open source platform
  • Collaborative
  • Financially sustainable

Our mission is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world.

We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and careers.

We are building an online university, "by Silicon Valley", that:

  • teaches the skills that industry employers need today
  • delivers credentials endorsed by employers
  • educates at a fraction of the cost of traditional schools

With industry giants—Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce, Cloudera, etc.—we offer Nanodegree programs and credentials, designed so professionals become Web Developers, Data Analysts, Mobile Developers, etc.

Our students acquire real skills through a series of online courses and hands-on projects.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We’re a private company wholly owned by The Open University, with the benefit of over 40 years of their experience in distance learning and online education.

We have 40 partners from the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These include many of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, such as the British Council, the British Library, the British Museum, and the National Film and Television School.

NovoEd is committed to being on the cutting edge of innovation in pedagogy, and our platform is the only one designed to connect students to each other and to their instructors around content at scale.

Our student-centered online learning environment enables you to tear down the walls of your classroom and extend learning through a team-based, collaborative, and project-based approach at scale.

We help learners foster the competencies of creative thinking, collaboration, and communication in practice.

Our courses are built on sound pedagogical foundations to help you learn to be a better team player, creative thinker and problem solver in an active, social, learning environment. Our innovative technology keeps you connected with other students so that you can exchange ideas, work on group projects, get feedback, and form relationships with other learners that last well beyond the course's end.

Our rigorous reputation system, accountability practices, and calibrated peer review enable students to form a worthwhile network of peers with similar interests and commitment whether they are in the same location or different parts of the world.

Our aim is not to replace universities, but to empower academics.

iversity.org is the European platform for online learning that enables universities to share a broad range courses with students from around the globe, providing them with the opportunity to earn recognised credentials, no matter where they are.

We are specialised in working with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

We work in close cooperation with instructors, higher education institutions and knowledge-based companies to provide high-quality courses that are engaging, interactive and fun.

iversity makes higher education more accessible, more affordable and more personalised.

With cultural sensitivity and passionate commitment, it is our goal to bring higher education into the digital age. We are young and thrive on experimentation: we optimise our technology and didactical methods to deliver the best possible online education experience. In other words, we practice what we teach: lifelong learning.

Canvas Network offers open, online courses taught by educators everywhere.

We provides a place and platform where teachers, students, and institutions worldwide can connect and chart their own course for personal growth, professional development, and academic inquiry.

Canvas Network is developed and supported by Instructure, a technology company that partners with educators, institutions, and technologists to break down barriers to learning.

While other platforms offer only a subset of online teaching tools, Canvas Network provides all the ease and functionality of Canvas, the LMS that makes teaching and learning easier for more than 12 million users.

Instructure—the company behind Canvas LMS—built it with open, adaptable, reliable, native cloud technologies that empower learning in every context.

At Open2Study, we’re big believers in the idea that connecting with other students is a powerful way to learn.

Unlike students from other platforms, about one in five Open2Study students are not only completing their subjects, they’re also passing.

It’s about giving students the best possible online education experience – and that’s irrespective of the fact that it’s free.

It’s about finding the right topics at the right level, creating short easy to digest videos and offering a classroom designed to give you everything you need at your fingertips.

What we really wanted to achieve with Open2Study was collaboration. The typical activity you get in an on-campus classroom is really difficult to replicate online and we saw the space to build this. We wanted to connect students with other students from across the globe. That’s why we’re constantly rolling out new features, like messaging, connections, chat and Student Guides. It’s also why we have such a strong focus on social learning and the Open2Study community.

Open2Study tries to remove the barriers that can make people hesitant to try online learning.

OpenLearning is an online learning platform that goes beyond content delivery to focus on community, connectedness, and student engagement.

We understand that for students to learn deeply, they need to be active, engaged, inspired, involved. They need to interact with their peers, connect dots between new and current knowledge and they need to have fun in the process!

The OpenLearning philosophy, which governs the design of the platform's student and teacher experience is based on the pedagogical foundations of:

  • Student empowerment, to foster deeper learning through intrinsic motivation,
  • Authentic, active learning experiences which go beyond publishing content,
  • Community and connectedness, to provide a social platform with the best support, encouragement, knowledge sharing, and engagement.

We are both the Learning Environment and the Student Hangout.

Traditional education providers view these as separate spaces; we see them as the same thing.

Udemy's mission is to help anyone learn anything.

We’re the world’s online learning marketplace, where 6 million+ students are taking courses in everything from programming to yoga to photography–and much, much more. Each of our 25,000+ courses is taught by an expert instructor, and every course is available on-demand, so students can learn at their own pace, on their own time, and on any device.

The Faculty Project is devoted to courses by professors at a number of top institutions, such as Colgate, Duke University, Stanford University, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia, Dartmouth College and Vassar College.

While Udemy is a for-profit enterprise, the Faculty Project courses will be free forever.

The courses, available to students on demand, include discussion boards for interaction with other students and professors, videos, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, articles, and other resources.

The project creates an incredible and unprecedented opportunity to share lessons that empower and inspire people to improve their lives and change their worlds.

What were some of your favorite MOOCs?

What did you enjoy most about them?

The future for MOOCs looks bright—what do you think?

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