Would you credit that? The trajectory of the MOOCs juggernaut

2012 was the Year of the MOOCs, in our line of work at least. Coverage of the 'massive open online courses' phenomenon was ubiquitous in the specialist HE press and blogs, and it spilled over into the quality mainstream media as well. In one year, MOOCs travelled the cultural cycle of hype, saturation, backlash, and backlash-to-the-backlash. Measured by media requests to the Observatory, MOOCs displaced international branch campuses as the hot topic at some point during the summer. Whether the media will have latched onto something even sexier by summer 2013 remains to be seen.

In the meantime, these are still relatively early days for MOOCs, and the landscape continues to develop quickly. This short article is further to our August 2012 paper. It describes how the landscape is broadening out from the initial three platform providers (Coursera, Udacity, edX) and further addresses a core issue identified earlier: the long-term process of integrating MOOC completion certificates into formal university credit. That process is a game-changer in terms of what ostensibly drives MOOCs. Can it still be about widening access when the most important developments suggest it is part of the search by universities for new business models and competitive positioning?

Members of the Observatory can download the report here.