COURSERA’S “LEARNING HOW TO LEARN” RANKS AS THE TOP BUSINESS COURSE ALL TIME
Coursera is considered the standard for MOOCs. According to Class-Central research, Coursera attracted more student signups than every other MOOC provider combined. Not surprisingly, Coursera was also a pioneer in the MOOC space – and the ranking of the most popular MOOCs over the past five years reflect this.
Among the MOOCs that generated the most interested users, four of the top five were developed by Coursera. And they are headed by the University of California-San Diego’s “Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects,” which (not coincidentally) also ranked as Coursera’s most popular MOOC of 2015. Over nine sessions, it is drawn 2,266 requests for more information from Class-Central visitors.
Here’s the big surprise about this course: It isn’t taught by the education or psychology departments. Instead, it is run by Dr. Barbara Oakley, an army captain turned industrial engineering professor who is a nationally acclaimed neuroscience and social behavior researcher, and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who holds a Ph.D. in physics and has published 12 books and 500 scientific papers during his career. For them, learning doesn’t happen when the light bulb goes off or when you cram for eight straight hours. Instead, it is a matter of learning habits (i.e. exercise and sleep) and techniques (i.e. chunking, spaced repetition) to help the brain function optimally. It is a how and why course that keeps students engaged by tying concepts to lighthearted analogies like vampires and mules.
Most important, it is a class that practices what it preaches, with students giving it a 4.7 star rating (based on 416 reviews), the highest average for any course with more than five reviews. For some, such as “Richa,” the course altered how they perceive and pursue learning. “I had my own set of mental blocks that prevented me from enjoying the learning process,” Richa wrote in a Class-Central review. “I had reached a point in my life where learning new concepts was more of a burden. And procrastination had started affecting most aspects of my life. This course has changed the way I look at learning. Thanks to the course, its style, its content, the instructors. Learning has become joyful once again.”
For another anonymous reviewer on Class-Central, the lessons didn’t just apply to academia. “I signed up for this course with the intention of using it to help me make the most of later courses I’d like to take, but I was shocked at how much of it is applicable in everyday life. I have many projects that I (would have liked) to be working on but had trouble finding the motivation to do so. What I learned here about handling procrastination – the Pomodoro technique, focusing on process rather than product, etc – has helped me become both more focused but also helps me allow myself to relax, meaning I’m more ready to take on other projects, positive cycle etc., etc.”
WHARTON SCORES WELL ON POPULARITY AND REVIEWS
Ranking second with 1,477 visitor inquiries is the University of Maryland’s “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship,” which is part of Coursera’s acclaimed “Entrepreneurship: Launching Ann Innovative Business” specialization. Kirill Soloviev, in a Class-Central review, emphasized that the course offered a unique balance: Simple enough to understand, but offering additional content to expose students to deeper intricacies. “The content of this course might appear rather simple and basic,” Soloviev writes, “but the best part is that it is rather well-structured and really helps you get your thinking organized in a systematic way…The course is also unique in offering 2 versions for each chunk of content: one is your typical MOOC-style short video with a talking head against the slides, and the other is a recording of a live classroom session (with the same lecturer and an audience of rather young students) that is has more Q&A going on and generally helps you immerse yourself better (while spending more time).”
The top three is rounded out by Open2Study’s “Principles of Project Management,” a four week course that has attracted over 60,000 students in 24 sections. Case Western Reserve’s ever popular Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence also finished among the 10 most inquired about courses on Class-Central (boasting a 4.25 star average to boot). Similarly, the University of Michigan’s Introduction to Finance MOOC, where Gautam Kaul ushered in the age of the rock start professor, has retained its popularity with 911 interested users over 10 sections.
Looking for a big winner among schools? Think Wharton. It placed three courses – Introduction to Marketing, Introduction to Financial Accounting, and Introduction to Operations Management – among the top 12 in terms of interested users. More important, these three courses averaged review scores of 4.40, 4.31, and 4.45 stars respectively, placing them among the highest-ranking MOOCs with 20 or reviews. Other Wharton favorites like Gamification (4.55) and Introduction to Corporate Finance (4.45) also fared well in reader reviews.
Overall, Coursera launched 24 of the 50 most popular MOOCs in terms of interested users at Class-Central. They were followed by Open2Study (10), Open Learning (3), and NovoEd (3). Despite nearly quadrupling its user base from 800,000 to 3 million users in the past year, FutureLearn is responsible for only one business course in the Top 50. Although edX and Canvas rank second and third behind Coursera for market share, each only managed to place one course in the Top 50 for business as well.
In a separate category, Class-Central also ranks MOOCs in data sciences. Here, John Hopkins’ R Programming attracted the most student interest with 969 requests for information (which is undercut by the course’s anemic 2.67 star rating from users). In fact, John Hopkins MOOCs held the three top spots in this category for inquires, with “Data Analysis and Statistical Inference” nabbing the third highest average review (4.68) among MOOCs with 10 or more reviews.
To see which MOOCs ranked in Class-Central’s Top 50 for business (and Top 10 for data sciences), go to the next page.