MoocLab Announces COVID-19 University Rankings by MOOC Performance


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Large-scale open online courses known as MOOCs or massive open online courses have been at the forefront of the online learning marathon following the advent of the coronavirus outbreak.

These online courses are offered by hundreds of universities, colleges and organizations worldwide — for credit, not for credit, or just for fun. Initially, MOOCs aimed to provide free or low-cost education to people who could not afford or get access to traditional learning. But in order to remain sustainable, providers started to introduce paywalls, often in the form of paid access to assignments and course certificates.

However, as COVID-19 started to take hold, universities across the globe responded to the pandemic by offering free certificates for certain courses as well as launching free courses about COVID-19 or for those impacted by the crisis. The economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to pose real career challenges - by providing access to free certificate courses, these universities are enabling those most impacted with opportunities to enhance their resumes and build skills that are in demand.

If you are unfamiliar with MOOCs, see MoocLab's MOOC Help Centre.

MoocLab's COVID-19 University Rankings by MOOC Performance aim to showcase those universities that have offered the best provision through MOOCs to help students, teachers and professionals impacted by the cornoavirus pandemic. A total of 62 universities were reviewed based on six performance indicators that measure an institution’s performance across the number of MOOCs provided, the provision of course programs - both for-credit and not-for-credit programs, degrees, the number of courses offering free course certificates and the number of courses developed specifically in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

For the purposes of these rankings, only universities that deliver MOOCs on either Coursera, edX or FutureLearn were considered, and only universities that have offered free course certificates on some of their open online courses and/or those that have developed courses specifically in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The University of Leeds (UK) tops the COVID-19 - University Rankings by MOOC Performance with Johns Hopkins University (USA) and The Open University (UK) taking second and third place respectively. The United Kingdom and the USA have the highest number of universities in the top 10 with 3 each, and Australia, Spain and Mexico each have one university featured among the top 10 best performing universities for their response to COVID-19.


The University of Leeds outperformed all of the 62 reviewed universities by offering free course certificates with 15 of their open online courses. The university currently offers 80 MOOCs in total across both FutureLearn and Coursera and 10 course programs, 3 of which grant credit. Johns Hopkins University and The Open University created the highest number of courses in response to COVID-19 with 3 courses each. Johns Hopkins launched COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Fighting COVID-19 with Epidemiology: A Johns Hopkins Teach-Out on Coursera and COVID-19: Effective Nursing in Times of Crisis on FutureLearn and The Open University launched COVID-19: Pandemics, Modelling, and Policy, Online Teaching: Creating Courses for Adult Learners and How to Learn Online: Getting Started on FutureLearn.

“We are very pleased that our MOOCs have helped so many students, teachers and professionals impacted by the pandemic, and to be recognised internationally as an excellent provider is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved in creating and delivering these courses. The Digital Education Service at the University of Leeds has long recognised the need to support individuals around the globe to develop new knowledge and skills to meet the societal and economic challenges facing us. We are proud to have worked with a wide range of external partners to develop these courses for delivery on the Futurelearn and Coursera platforms.”


At the end of May 2020, 23 open online courses had been launched as a direct response to the COVID-19 situation, 9 of which were created by universities in the US, 7 by UK universities, 3 by Canadian universities, 2 from the Netherlands and 1 from both China and Spain. Out of the 62 universities we reviewed, 53 were offering free course certificates on successful completion of certain courses from their catalogues.


MOOC platform Coursera boasts the highest number of partner universities in the top 20 of MoocLab's COVID-19 University Rankings by MOOC Performance with 12 universities, 9 of which are in the top 10. FutureLearn follows closely behind with 9 universities featured in the top 20, and 5 top 20 universities offer courses on edX, 3 of which feature in the top 10. UK-based FutureLearn claims the top 5 universities in the rankings.

Justin Cooke, Chief Content & Partnerships Officer at FutureLearn said: “We’re delighted to see so many of our partners featured in these rankings; they’ve delivered MOOCs that have really made a difference. Throughout the pandemic, FutureLearn has worked closely with our partners, which include 25% of the world’s top universities, to rapidly launch more than 35 courses to support our 13 million learners including students, educators, parents, healthcare workers and individuals affected by the pandemic with almost 650,000 enrolments on just those courses since March, including the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s COVID-19 course that attracted over 200,000 learners from across the world. "

See the full COVID-19 University Rankings by MOOC Performance here ►


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