Role of MOOCs at your institution - 2012 to 2015

Publication Year: 
Category of Information: 
Sample size: 
Information from the National Center for Educational Statistics’ IPEDS database and survey data collected by the Babson Survey Research Group
Sample description: 

The sample for this analysis is comprised of all active, degree-granting institutions of higher education in the United States that are open to the public. The data for this report uses information from the National Center for Educational Statistics’ IPEDS database and survey data collected by the Babson Survey Research Group. The most current IPEDS database was released in December 2015, but covers results for fall 2014. The Babson Survey Research Group was collected in December 2015 and refers to fall 2015. Data for prior years used for comparisons also includes data collected College Board. The College Board included questions for this report series as part of its extensive data collection effort for its Annual Survey of Colleges.



The number of institutions that report that they either have or are planning a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has remained relatively steady. In 2012 12.0% of institutions fell in this category (2.6% offering a MOOC, and 9.4% with plans to offer them). In 2013, the number increased to 14.3% (5.0% offering a MOOC and 9.3% planning). Results for 2014 saw this drop a bit to 13.6% (8.0% offering a MOOC and 5.6% planning). This year’s results follow this same pattern; 11.3% reporting that they have a MOOC, and an additional 2.3% are planning one, for the same 13.6% total as last year.

While the proportion of institutions that have or are planning MOOCs has remained stable, the remaining higher education institutions seem to be deciding against adding a MOOC. This may be because of their belief that MOOCs are not sustainable. We previously asked all institutions — those with MOOCS and those without — if they thought that MOOCs were a sustainable method for offering online courses. The number of institutions saying that they believed MOOCs to be sustainable fell from 28.3% in 2012 to only 16.3% in 2014.

Only a small portion of higher education institutions are engaged with MOOCs, and adoption levels seem to be plateauing. The total number of institutions reporting a current or planned MOOC remained stable in 2015. While the fraction of institutions engaged in MOOCs may be relatively small, these does not mean that the number of students impacted is also small. With many MOOCs having enrollments in the thousands, or even higher, the number of students touched by a MOOC can easily match that of those taking distance education courses.