The race is on to segment for MOOCs: To the victor go the spoils

MOOCs have emerged as a disruptive force in  ‘traditional’ higher education.  A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course allowing unlimited student enrollment through the internet, Chicago Now reports.

Coursera is one leading provider, encouraging participants to, “Take the world’s best courses, online, for free.”

In a meetup held at Northwestern University on October 17th, four of the major functions of universities were identified: education, credentialing, socialization and research.

The conversation touched on how MOOCs may be unbundling some of these roles by offering education and credentialing, while clearly not addressing others, i.e., research and socialization.

What type of student or learner is attracted to a MOOC? Based on the information we’ve seen thus far, there appear to be several segments of adult learners who represent, in some cases, a new audience for education programs, such as the Coursera MOOCs.

These learners are 25+ and not focused on earning a college degree.  This group may become more important as NCES projects age 25+ adult learner enrollments to grow at a faster rate (20%) between 2010 and 2020 than enrollments among the under 25 segment (11%).

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