Rise of Online Education Platforms

By Ervin Delas Peñas, UN SDSN Youth Philippines Volunteer | Published on November 24, 2020 7:10:54 PM

Apart from the transition to online platforms for schooling, there has also been a rise in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It would seem that people had more time to take online courses as the pandemic put our lives to a pause. According to the Founder and CEO of Class Central Dhawal Shah, “when the quarantine went live, that's when we saw the spike.”

By the numbers, here is a photo depicting the millions that enrolled in courses this year compared to 2019:

Usually, students and professionals take these online courses to add more technical skills to their repertoire and resume. One of the benefits is that learners also attain certificates at the end of these courses, though if it’s not free, learners would have to subscribe or pay for the certificate at the end of the course. Career advancement or learning as a hobby are the common reasons for taking MOOCs. Most of the time, these courses are available for a limited time if taken for free.

Unlike the online classrooms that schools and colleges alike have set up for their students and teachers, most online courses are totally asynchronous in nature, meaning there is no commitment or pressure for learners to finish the courses or even follow the suggested deadlines. Lecture videos are pre-recorded, and supplementary readings or material are usually provided for free, or are outsourced to other articles. The only limitation to taking online courses is that you might feel alone, more often than not. Clearly, this is one feature that would be missed from the physical classroom setting, though there are some courses that encourage interaction among co-learners who are enrolled in the same course through discussion forums or comments.

Taking such courses are also flexible and can be taken anytime that is convenient for the learner. The modules in each course are usually segmented into weeks, but most of the time these modules can be accomplished in less, sometimes even a day if you’re that active.

As an avid online learner myself, I’ve enrolled in more than 70 courses, but have only accomplished 19 so far. Of course, these are all free, but it is wise not to fall into the trap of tsundoku. It’s the Japanese term for a person who owns a lot of unread books. Obviously, in this case, instead of books it’s online courses. In browsing the course selections, it’s so easy to enroll in many if you think it’s relevant, worth learning, and most especially, if it’s free. This happened to me, but nothing was to be lost, and it’s easy to go back to these anytime while not being worried about any deadline.

I’m also currently a full-time, college student. So some may ponder on how one could balance schoolwork with online courses. Frankly, you won’t have much time to attend to online courses anymore, especially if they’re arranged for more than three weeks, considering deadlines on which your grade would depend on. The most ideal way to balance academics and extra-academics—the MOOCs—is to perceive these online courses as a pass time, and so there’s a sense of turning this practice into a hobby or habit rather than an obligation. In the sea of distractions and entertainment brought about by social media and streaming websites, another (or even) healthier alternative is to devote or at least balance the time between learning and play.

Another way to think of it is that instead of reading a book, online courses also involve some reading, but also some application and practice.

Last May 24, 2020, a Filipina citizen was able to complete 20 courses while in lockdown. May this serve as an inspiration to taking a huge step to self-improvement and progressive learning. One online course, 20, or 70, it doesn’t matter as long as there’s that eagerness to learn and making it count by finishing what you sign up for.

Churned by:
Sabrina Carlos
Program Intern
UN SDSN Youth Philippines
Graphic by:

JC Fermante
Volunteer, Data Presenter
UN SDSN Youth Philippines