It’s been more than five years since online education got a massive boost when three free online courses, taught by Stanford professors, launched in October 2011. Each of these courses has had over 100,000 students.
Professors launched three online course websites: Coursera, edX, and Udacity. And the media started calling the courses provided by these websites “MOOCs”: Massive Open Online Courses.
Since then, more than 700 universities around the world have launched free online courses.
By the end of 2016, around 58 million students had signed up for at least one MOOC.
Many countries around the world — like India, Mexico, Thailand, and Italy — have launched their own country-specific MOOC platforms.
At Class Central we try to catalog as many MOOCs as possible. So far, we’ve cataloged over 7,000 of them. But due to limited resources (and sometimes language barriers), we cannot index every one of them.
I’ve made this list of 33 MOOC providers from all over the world. This list has been adapted with permission from Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential, by Barbara Oakley, Tarcher-Perigee, April 2017. And I’ve also expanded upon the list, and included a few extra regional MOOC providers.
Our focus has mostly been on course providers that partner with universities and offer free online courses. So if you know of any MOOC providers that we missed, let me know in the comments below.
1. Coursera (United States)
Coursera officially launched in January 2012, and it was started by two Stanford professors — Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller.
With over 25 million students and $146.1 million raised in funding, Coursera is the biggest MOOC/online education provider in the world. It has over 150 university partners from 29 countries and 2,000+ online courses.
Beyond single courses, Coursera offers its own credential, which is know as a Specialization, and it also offers fully-online Masters degrees. Coursera is also expanding into B2B via its Coursera for Business product.
- Coursera homepage
- Coursera courses on Class Central
- Coursera’s 2016: Year in Review
- Coursera Launches Two New Masters Degrees, Plans to Offer Up to 20 Degree Programs
- MOOCs Started Out Completely Free. Where Are They Now?
2. edX (United States)
Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is a non-profit organization. It’s the second largest MOOC provider in the world with over ten million students. It offers over 1,500 courses and boasts more than 100+ university partners.
EdX offers a number of different types of certificates programs: MicroMasters (which offer a pathway to credit), XSeries, Professional Certificate, and Professional Education. Earlier this year, edX got into the degree game with a new Online Masters in Analytics degree from Georgia Tech.
- edX homepage
- edX Courses on Class Central
- edX’s 2016: Year in Review
- Decoding edX’s Newest Credential: Professional Certificate Programs
- Georgia Tech and edX Announce an Online Master of Science in Analytics Degree
3. FutureLearn (United Kingdom)
FutureLearn is a UK-based MOOC provider. It is wholly owned by Open University. It was launched at the end of 2012 and now has more than six million registered users.
FutureLearn has over 100 partners creating courses on its platform. Seventy-one of those partners are universities primarily located in Europe, but it also has a few universities in other countries, including the United States, Australia, and South Korea.
FutureLearn offers its own credential program, which is known as FutureLearn Programs. Last year it also announced six completely online post-grad degrees in partnership with Australia’s Deakin University.
- FutureLearn homepage
- FutureLearn Courses on Class Central
- FutureLearn’s 2016: Year in Review
- FutureLearn and Deakin University the first to offer range of degrees delivered entirely on a MOOC platform
- Partners — FutureLearn
- FutureLearn’s New Pricing Model Limits Access to Course Content After the Course Ends
4. XuetangX (China)
XuetangX is China’s first and biggest MOOC platform. It was founded in 2013 by the Tsinghua University under the supervision of the China Ministry of Education Research. It’s probably the fastest growing MOOC platform.
When Class Central interviewed XuetangX’s Chairman of the Board back in October 2016, the platform had five million users. Now that number has crossed seven million registered users.
Back in October 2016, the platform had over 400 courses. It’s built upon a heavily customized version of Open edX. XuetangX also has a cloud LMS product that is used by universities across China, and which is currently used by 1.5 million Chinese students.
- XuetangX homepage
- XuetangX: A Look at China’s First and Biggest MOOC Platform
- One and half million Chinese students are using XuetangX Cloud LMS Platform
5. Udacity (United States)
Udacity is a tech unicorn, and it partners with technology companies to create Nanodegrees that train students for a particular job. In recent times, it has launched an AI Nanodegree with IBM Watson and a Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree. The co-creators of the latter include car companies like Mercedes Benz, BMW, and McLaren. These Nanodegrees cost, and they can take a few months to complete. Courses that are part of the Nanodegree are available for free, and Udacity currently has close to 200 free online courses.
Udacity has also partnered with Georgia Tech to create and launch a low cost, completely online Masters in Computer Science degree. At this moment there are more than 4,000 students enrolled in the Master’s program. Udacity was founded by Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun, the man behind Google’s self-driving car project. He is currently the president of Udacity and the CEO of a flying car company called Kitty Hawk.
- Udacity homepage
- Udacity courses on Class Central
- Udacity’s 2016: A Year in Review
- Online Master of Science in Computer Science
- Udacity Blitz: a Freelancing Platform For Nanodegree Alumni — With a Twist
6. Kadenze (United States)
Kadenze is a MOOC platform that specializes in the field of creative and arts education. It partners with some of the best art institutions and universities around the world to launch online courses.
It was co-founded by Ajay Kapur, a classically trained Indian musician and computer scientist. He is Associate Dean for Research and Development in Digital Arts at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). In October 2013 he taught a course called “Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists” on Coursera. However, he soon realized that some of the things he wanted to do with arts education were not possible with Coursera, so he created his own platform.
Kadenze has also launched its own certificate initiative, which is called Kadenze Programs. The first course in the program is free, but the rest are not. Students can also earn academic credit for many Kadenze courses/programs.
- Kadenze homepage
- Kadenze Courses on Class Central
- Kadenze, a MOOC platform optimized for arts education
- Kadenze Programs: A Modern Day Credential for Artists and Creatives
- Institutions and Partners | Kadenze
7. Canvas Network (United States)
Canvas Network might not have the big names, but they do have a number of free online courses taught by community colleges and other institutions around the world. I have seen a few Canvas Network courses move over to big providers like Coursera. Many of their courses still offer completely free certificates. Canvas Network is based on the Canvas LMS, which was developed by Instructure.
8. Stanford Languita (United States)
Stanford has been self-hosting courses for a long time now. It uses Open edX, the open source version of edX.
9. Miríada X (Spain)
Miríada X is a regional MOOC platform that has launched over 600 courses in Spanish and Portuguese. These courses are created by its 100 university partners, which are located in Spain, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and other Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. With over three million students, it is one of the largest MOOC platforms out there.
MéxicoX is a MOOC platform funded by the Mexican government, and it has more than 40 partners (universities and institutions from the Federal Public Administration). It has over one million registered learners, 85% of whom are located in Mexico.
- MéxicoX homepage
- MéxicoX: Meet the MOOC Platform Funded by the Mexican Government
- MéxicoX: Growth, Monetization, Stability: How Will These Challenges be Faced?
11. France Université Numérique (FUN)
FUN is the official MOOC platform for France. The French Ministry of Higher Education launched the project in July 2013. FUN has 93 partners among higher education institutions that create MOOCs, including three universities in Belgium, one in Switzerland, and two in Tunisia. As of January 2017, it had launched 279 MOOCs and had more than one million registered students.
- FUN homepage
- FUN courses on Class Central
- France Université Numérique: Meet the MOOC Platform Funded by the French Government
12. EduOpen (Italy)
EduOpen is a new MOOC provider funded by the Italian government, and it launched last year in April 2016. EduOpen is a network of Italian universities, but it is also open to EU universities. At the moment it involves seventeen universities, which include a mixture of larger and smaller institutions from both northern and southern Italy.
- EduOpen homepage
- EduOpen Courses on Class Central
- EduOpen: a new MOOC Provider Funded by the Italian Government
13. ThaiMOOC / Thailand
ThaiMOOC is one of the newest platforms in this list. It was launched early this year in March 2017. It is the official MOOC platform for Thailand. The ThaiMOOC platform is built on Open edX and currently lists around 50 courses.
14. Federica.eu (Italy)
Federica.eu is a MOOC platform created by the University of Naples Federico II. Currently it has over 60 free online courses listed on its platform. One of its courses, Connectivisim and Learning, is taught by Stephen Downes, who is credited with teaching the first ever MOOC.
15. SWAYAM (India)
SWAYAM, short for “Study Webs of Active-learning for Young Aspiring Minds,” is the official MOOC platform for India. Under SWAYAM, professors of centrally-funded institutions in India — — such as Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), and central universities — will offer online courses to citizens of India. Currently, the SWAYAM platform hosts 350 free online courses.
- SWAYAM homepage
- SWAYAM: Inside India’s Massive Bet on MOOCs
- India’s Ambitious MOOC Platform “SWAYAM” Moves Ahead
- SWAYAM, India’s MOOC Platform, Launches In Beta — It’s Off To A Rocky Start
16. NPTEL (India)
The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is a project funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) of India. It has been putting video courses online from the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) for a long time now. In some sense, this is similar to MIT’s OCW. In fact, The NPTEL YouTube channel gets twice the number of views that MIT OCW gets.
After MOOCs became popular, NPTEL also launched a separate MOOC-like platform on which it offers hundreds of free online courses, mostly in the field of engineering.
17. CNMOOC (China)
CNMOOC is the official website of China’s high-level university Muji Union, which is an open cooperative education platform for some high-level universities in China. The platform hosts more than 400 courses from 70+ universities.
18. Chinese MOOCS (China)
This is another MOOC provider from China. It hosts around 50+ courses from a few universities.
19. University of China MOOC — icourse163.org (China)
University of China MOOC seems to be yet another MOOC platform. According to its “about” page, it is an online education platform launched by Netease and Higher Education Society. It hosts more than 700 courses from 130+ Chinese universities.
20. ewant — Education you want (Taiwan)
eWant is a MOOC platform that was launched by National Chiao Tung University in 2013. National Chiao Tung University is one of Taiwan’s leading public research universities, and it’s located in Hsinchu, Taiwan. It hosts more than 500 courses from 80 different universities. Its goal is to educate the global Chinese population.
21. Edraak (Arabic language, from Jordan)
Edraak means “realization” in Arabic, and this is a non-profit Arabic platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It launched in May 2014 and is affiliated with the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development (QRF). Edraak has more than one million learners registered on its platform.
22. European Multiple MOOC Aggregator (EMMA)
EMMA is a 30-month pilot action supported by the European Union. It aggregates and hosts courses provided by European universities that wish to provide their courses in multiple languages.
23. Zhihuishu (China)
Zhihuishu is yet another MOOC platform from China. According to Google Translate, Zhihuishu means “wisdom book.” One of the defining features of Zhihuishu is that you can also earn credits.
24. OpenHPI (Germany)
openHPI is a MOOC platform hosted by Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) in Potsdam, Germany. It offers courses in English and German. It was one of the early players in the MOOC space and was launched in September 2012.
25. gacco (Japan)
Gacco is a MOOC provider that partners with universities in Japan to offer online courses in Japenese. Gacco has over 350k students enrolled on its platform. The platform has other features like peer grading and a premium face-to-face learning service.
26. Fisdom (Japan)
Fisdom is another Japanese MOOC provider. It was launched in February last year by Fujitsu, a Japanese multinational company. Fisdom’s tagline is “Freedom is Wisdom. Knowledge is Freedom.”
27. OpenLearning (Japan)
OpenLearning Japan, as the name suggests, is a MOOC provider. It was launched by Net Learning Inc., an education service company based in Japan.
28. JMOOC (Japan)
JMOOC is not really a MOOC provider, but it is a non-profit association aimed at promoting MOOC education in Japan. It has its own certification standards process which assesses the quality of MOOCs in Japan. The courses that pass this examination process are qualified as JMOOC-certified courses.
The three Japanese MOOC providers listed above all have courses that have been JMOOC certified. As of September 2016, 143 JMOOC certified courses have been offered, and they have had 610k enrollments from 250k registered learners.
29. Open Education (openedu.ru, from Russia)
This MOOC provider was created by the Association “National Platform of Open Education,” founded by leading universities: MSU, SPbPU, St. Petersburg State University, NUST, MISA, NRU “Higher School of Economics”, MIPT, UFU, and ITMO. It currently offers 150+ courses and has more than 150,000 learners.
30. Open Education (openedu.tw, from Taiwan)
Openedu.tw is a MOOC provider from Taiwan that offers over 180 free online courses.
31. K-MOOC (Korea)
K-MOOC, or Korean MOOC, is the official MOOC platform of Korea. It was initiated by the Ministry of Education and first went live in 2015. Currently it lists 280+ courses from around 20 Korean universities.
IndonesiaX is a non-profit organization that offers MOOCs made by universities and companies in Indonesia. It’s a relatively new MOOC provider — it was launched in August 2015 — and it currently offers 20 free online courses.
33. Prometheus (Ukraine)
Like many other MOOC providers, Prometheus is a non-profit organization. It was launched in October 2014, and it partners with Ukrainian universities and companies to launch free online courses. It has around 50 courses and more than 250k registered users.