Most popular MOOCs focused on computer science, self-help  | MIT J-WEL

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Most popular MOOCs focused on computer science, self-help 

At first glance, computer science and self-help might not seem like they have much in common. But last week, EdSurge reported that computer science/coding and self-help courses top the list of the most popular massive open online courses, known as MOOCs. MOOCs are online courses, typically free, that anyone in the world who has an internet connection can take. As you can see below, the top four courses on the edX platform, which was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, are all related to computer science. The most popular course of all time on the edX platform is the MIT course “Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python.” Two self-help courses, “The Science of Happiness” by UC Berkeley and “The Science of Everyday Thinking” by the University of Queensland, are also in the top 10 most popular courses of all time. 

edX top 10 courses 

Source: edX


Coursera’s most popular courses show a similar trend, with the top 10 including “Programming for Everybody” and “The Science of Well-Being," as you can see below. 

Coursera top 10 courses

Source: Coursera

An incentive to pay? 

The subject matter of a MOOC affects whether or not learners will pay to obtain a “verified certificate.” It makes professional sense, for example, for would-be programmers to certify themselves in a Python course so that they can put it on their resumes. For those seeking greater happiness through self-help courses, however, there is less incentive to pay for a certificate when they can accomplish their goal for free. 


The advantages of verified

Other than the obvious professional benefit of being able to showcase a verified course certificate, paying for a MOOC can have other advantages for learners, as well. 

According to Chris Caplice, Executive Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics and MOOC instructor, people who pay for verified certificates tend to do better in the course, stay longer, and interact more with other learners. Dr. Caplice spoke with J-WEL members about his experiences putting together the first MicroMasters recognized by MIT during our March 2018 J-WEL Week. MicroMasters is a professional and academic credential for online learners from anywhere in the world; learners earn a MicroMasters after passing a series of thematic MOOCs. J-WEL members receive discounts on MITx MOOCs and MicroMasters programs.

In the clip below, Dr. Caplice describes how MITx courses allow learners who do not speak fluent English to take courses from MIT, as well as the benefits of MITx courses for learners who work full time. J-WEL members can watch the full video.