MOOCS and 100 Days of COVID: Enrollment surges in massive open online astronomy classes during the coronavirus pandemic

Chris Impey, Martin Formanek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

One side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been increased enrollment in online classes. The paper explores the surge in activity from March through June 2020 in two massive open online classes (MOOCs) on Astronomy, offered by Coursera and Udemy. The increase in enrollment in both classes was an order of magnitude over the similar time span in previous years. Learners enrolling during the pandemic were more likely to be younger than thirty and less likely to have advanced degrees. A majority were full-time undergraduate students, and relatively few were professionals working in technical fields. The largest number of new students were from India and overall, the biggest surge in enrollment came from people in developing countries, particularly in Asia. Those who enrolled during the pandemic were more likely to take the course to get a certificate or to further their career goals than because they had intrinsic interest in the subject. Social motivations were important, particularly among full-time students in the course. These results, albeit limited to MOOCs in astronomy, suggest that new audiences have been turning to online classes during the pandemic for gaining credentials or advancing their professional skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100177
JournalSocial Sciences and Humanities Open
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Informal learning
  • Lifelong learning
  • MOOC
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Decision Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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