When A Third Of Workers Say They Have Faced A Skills Challenge, Then The Workplace Skills Crisis Really Is Here

In 2012, Harvard and MIT came together to create edX.org, a non-profit online learning platform deliberately set up to reimagine something that hasn’t changed for hundreds, arguably, thousands of years: Education as we knew it.

Today, edX, the world’s largest MOOC (Massively Open Online Courses) platform, has users that range from an amazing-sounding 4.5 year old who took a course on Sharks at Cornell to at least one 98-year old. With a median age of 27, mostly in the 18-40 spread, and registered users all over the world, the Cambridge, Mass-based organization has, in just eight years, taught 24 million unique users, delivered over 3000 courses, offers content on everything from Computer Science to Psychology, Electronics to Marketing, and had one 120 millions watched online.

edX is just one MOOC, of course. Just-released ata from education market intelligence specialist Holon IQ shows that MOOCs finished 2019 with 380 million Learners taking over 30,000 courses and 50 degrees from over a thousand Universities worldwide.

And yet – we keep being told MOOCs failed. That they have low completion rates and low engagement. And that workplace Learners in particular aren’t that interested. But that’s just not something that aligns with what the next guest on the ‘Learning Is The New Working’ podcast experiences every day. That’s Anant Agarwal, Founder and CEO of edX and who’s been helping to grow since Day One. If you tune in tomorrow, February 12th, to listen to our interview with him, you can maybe make up your own mind on MOOCs and their true impact, too.

Covering everything from the shrinking half-life of knowledge in the context of a longer lifespan to the future profile of Learning (‘modular, life-long, and ominichannel’) to some of the rather scary results of recent Learner profiling referred to in our headline above, Anant, who is also a full-time Professor at MIT, gave some of his very valuable time to educate me – and, I hope, you guys – a heck of a lot.

My conversation with edX is part of what we’re calling ‘Season 6’ of the podcast, Here Come The The Learning Scientists. Sponsored by Mandel Communications, we’re meeting practitioners just like Professor Agarwal who are drawing on science based practices to move the L&D profession forward. Data Science, the Social Sciences, Computer Science, and Neuroscience are all rapidly developing fields that offer new insights and tools to help us build a better model for workplace learning.

It’s an excellent episode, and if you’re at all interested in the emerging links between data, Cognitive Science and the challenges we really have to start engaging with around the future of work in our society, I really hope you have time to listen. If you haven’t alaready, click to subscribe directly to Learning Is The New Working on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyGooglePlay and SoundCloud.

If you feel so inclined abut what you’ve heard about MOOCs, or in any of other episodes, a review on Apple Podcasts is always so appreciated, as it helps other folks find the show: thank you!

Chris Pirie

Founder & CEO

The Learning Futures Group