Why you should enroll in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) to upskill yourself in 2020

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are gaining popularity during the pandemic, and for good reason. Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

By U2B Staff 

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There are plenty of discussions – and pressure – to upskill yourself these days. People are staying in and avoiding social interactions due to the pandemic, and industries are struggling to weather the impact of COVID-19, making it an ideal time upskill yourself or learn something new.

But where do you start? There’s an abundance of online courses, webinars, online training courses, and online degree programmes out there, so much so that is can seem rather overwhelming for someone trying to find the right way to upskill themselves. 

While it’s also a good idea for some to continue their education with an MBA or other Master programme, seeing that it’s a time of economic uncertainty, the hefty price tag and commitment to a one or two-year course may be out of reach. 

This is where MOOCs come in. MOOC – massive online open courses – are offered for free or at a low-cost, and can be worked on at your own pace, so that you can upskill yourself in targeted areas without spending too much time or money on it. 

MOOCs also typically have interactive sessions and forums so you can actively participate and engage in discussions to hone your skills in a particular subject.

Plus, MOOCs don’t require applications or stringent requirements – such as English proficiency tests or academic transcripts – making it accessible to anyone and everyone with an Internet-enabled computer.

During the pandemic, a number of MOOC providers are offering online courses for free or at discounted rates – making it even more affordable. 


MOOC-based degrees are also gaining popularity as degree equivalents without the need to attend a university in a traditional setting. 

Carolyn McIntyre, the founder and CEO of MOOCLab, said, “The rising costs of higher education are making the traditional degree increasingly inaccessible to many and we believe MOOCs … offer the perfect gateway to gaining the same level of knowledge that anyone enrolled in a university degree can gain but without the cost.”

Even before the pandemic, a rising number of people were signing up for MOOCs or MOOC-based degrees – and a growing number of universities were also offering these types of courses. 

A report by Class Central found that last year, there were 110 million students around the world (excluding China) enrolled in MOOCs, and that over 900 universities offered 13,500 of these types of courses.

Shravan Goli, chief product officer for the MOOC provider Coursera, told WTop News that U.S. enrollments increased by 2,692% from March to April last year with the biggest increase in enrollments coming from “public health; social science, arts and humanities; and personal development courses”. 

It’s never been a better time to sharpen your skills through MOOCs, especially if you’re worried about being furloughed or needing to switch careers due to economic instability. 

With the range of MOOCs out there, you should be able to find one that will help you upskill in a specific area without needing to take additional courses that might not be helpful for you in your career. 

Reggie Smith III, executive director of the nonprofit United States Distance Learning Association, said, “It’s not surprising that people would be looking at MOOCs or microcredentialing while they’re at home now. If you’ve lost your job, or worried you’re about to, they can be an affordable way to keep your skills sharp, especially the self-paced ones, which can be done after the kids have gone to bed or around other commitments.”