Back in October 2011, Stanford professors launched three free online courses, open to the public. One by one, these courses went massive, with enrollments topping 100,000 students each. Soon the media was calling these courses MOOCs, short for massive open online courses. Since then, more than 900 universities around the world have launched free online courses. In addition to the larger global MOOC platforms (Coursera, edX, FutureLearn), many national governments around the world have launched their own country-specific MOOC platforms, including India, Italy, Israel, Mexico and Thailand.
After a decade of popularization, a total of 220 million students have signed up for at least one course on one of the MOOCs platforms, and 40 million did so in 2021 alone (excluding China). MOOCs and MOOC platforms are still in growing, even after the crazy “Year of the MOOC” prompted by the pandemic and travel restrictions in 2020.
At Class Central, we try to catalog as many MOOCs as possible, and our listing currently includes more than 59,000 of them, from MOOC platforms and other online learning platforms. But due to limited resources (and sometimes a language barrier), we cannot index every single one. If you’re looking for MOOCs from around the world (many in languages other than English), this list is our best attempt to catalog all different MOOC platforms that are out there.
The list has been adapted with permission from Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential by Barbara Oakley (Tarcher-Perigee, April 2017). We first published this list in 2017. It was last updated and expanded in 2022.
Table of Contents
MOOC Platforms from North America & United States
Coursera / United States
Two Stanford professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, officially launched Coursera in January 2012. In March 2021, Coursera finished its 9-year monetization journey with an IPO (NYSE: COUR) on NYSE. With over 97 million students and $519 million raised in funding, Coursera is the biggest MOOC platform in the world. By the end of 2021, Coursera offers approximately 8250 online courses from over 250 partners. Beyond single courses, Coursera offers its own credential, known as a Specialization. Coursera’s catalog currently lists more than 550 Specializations. The MOOC platform also hosts 34 fully-online master’s degrees in fields such as computer science, data science, business, and public health. Coursera for Business makes online courses available to business clients.
edX / United States
Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is a non-profit organization. But In 2021, edX was acquired by 2U for $800M, and stopped being a nonprofit. EdX is the second largest MOOC platform in the world, with more than 42 million students and 7 million new learners. EdX offers approximately 3550 courses and boasts 139 university partners. EdX offers a number of different types of certificate programs, including 57 MicroMasters (which offer a pathway to credit), 52 XSeries, 265 Professional Certificate, and 98 Professional Education. In 2021, edX launched 4 new credentials called MicroBachelors, started offering higher-priced Executive Education courses, and launched a new product line for universities called edX Online Campus. Like Coursera, edX has launched multiple online degree programs.
Udacity / United States
Udacity has pivoted away from its prior identity as a MOOC platform. It was the first of the original MOOC platforms to reach unicorn status (> $1 billion valuation), and it partners with technology companies to create Nanodegrees that train students for technology-focused jobs. Nanodegrees cost around $1,000, and they can take a few months to complete. Although Udacity has stopped releasing free courses, it still has some courses in its catalog that are free to audit.
In 2021, Udacity consolidated its enterprise focus, launched fewer free courses but more tripled scholarships. As of fall 2020, Georgia Tech’s online master’s in computer science (OMSCS) isn’t offered through Udacity anymore. Udacity partnered with Georgia Tech to create and launch the first MOOC-based degree, a low cost, completely online Masters in Computer Science degree. To date, the program has enrolled more than 10,799 students. Recently, Udacity has undergone multiple changes, as the company strives to improve its performance.
Kadenze / United States
Kadenze is a MOOC platform that specializes in creative and arts education. It partners with some of the best art institutions and universities around the world to launch online courses. It was co-founded by Ajay Kapur, a classically trained Indian musician and computer scientist. He is Associate Dean for Research and Development in Digital Arts at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). In October 2013, he taught a course called “Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists” on Coursera. However, he soon realized that some of the things he wanted to do with arts education were not possible with Coursera, so he created his own MOOC platform.
Kadenze has also launched its own certificate initiative, which is called Kadenze Programs. Typically, the first course in a Program is free. Students can also earn academic credit for many Kadenze courses and Programs.
Canvas Network / United States
Canvas Network might not have the big names, but the MOOC platform does have a number of free online courses taught by various institutions around the world. Some of their courses still offer completely free certificates and badges. They shifted their focus to professional development (PD) courses for educators, removing some courses that were not in this specific field and currently listing 600 courses. Some courses have paid options that can be used for official credit for licensure renewal (LR) or university credits.
Canvas Network is based on the Canvas LMS, which was developed by Instructure.
Stanford Lagunita / United States
Stanford had self-hosting courses for a long time. The MOOC platform used Open edX, the open source version of edX. In 2020, Stanford moved its courses to edx.org and announced the shut down of Stanford Lagunita.
Complexity Explorer / United States
The MOOC platform Complexity Explorer provides online courses and educational materials about complexity science. Complexity Explorer is based out of the Sante Fe Institute. Two of their courses, Introduction to Complexity and Introduction to Dynamical Systems and Chaos, are on Class Central’s list of the Top 50 MOOCs of All Time.
MéxicoX / Mexico
MéxicoX is a MOOC platform funded by the Mexican government, and it has more than 40 partners (universities and institutions from the Federal Public Administration). It has more than 2.5 million registered learners, a majority of whom are located in Mexico.
MOOC Platforms from Europe & United Kingdom
FutureLearn / United Kingdom
FutureLearn is a UK-based MOOC platform. The Open University launched FutureLearn at the end of 2012. After a recent investment round, FutureLearn is now jointly owned by the Open University and the Australia based SEEK Group. With almost 17 million users, FutureLearn is the UK’s biggest MOOC platform. Most of its university partners are located in the UK and Europe, but it also has a few university partners in other countries, including the United States, Australia, and South Korea.
FutureLearn offers its own credential program, which is known as FutureLearn Programs. In 2021, FutureLearn launched a new type of microcredential, ExpertTrack. Among MOOC platforms, FutureLearn leads the way with its degree offerings, with 24 degree programs currently available (including one bachelor’s degree).
France Université Numérique (FUN) / France
FUN is the official MOOC platform for France. The French Ministry of Higher Education launched the project in July 2013. FUN has more than 100 partners among higher education institutions that create MOOCs, including three universities in Belgium, one in Switzerland, and two in Tunisia. FUN has more than 800 MOOCs and has more than two million registered students.
Miríadax / Spain
Miríada X is a regional MOOC platform that has more than 600 courses in Spanish and Portuguese. These courses are created by its 91 university partners, which are located in Spain, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and other Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries.
EduOpen / Italy
EduOpen is a MOOC platform funded by the Italian government, launched in April 2016. EduOpen is a network of Italian universities, but it is also open to EU universities. At the moment it involves nineteen institutes, which include a mixture of larger and smaller institutions from both northern and southern Italy.
Federica Web Learning / Italy
Federica.eu is a MOOC platform created by the University of Naples Federico II. Currently it has over 60 free online courses listed on its platform. One of its courses, Connectivisim and Learning, is taught by Stephen Downes, who is credited with teaching the first ever MOOC.
European Multiple MOOC Aggregator (EMMA) / European Union
EMMA started as a 30-month pilot action supported by the European Union. It aggregates and hosts courses provided by European universities that wish to provide their courses in multiple languages.
OpenHPI / Germany
OpenHPI is a MOOC platform hosted by Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) in Potsdam, Germany. It offers courses in English and German. It was one of the early players in the MOOC space and was launched in September 2012.
MOOC.fi / Finland
MOOC.fi is a MOOC platform from University of Helsinki’s Department of Computer Science. The MOOC platform offers around 16 open, free and beginner-friendly courses in computer science such as Elements of AI, Python Programming and Ethics of AI. 7 courses provide free certificates. The course Elements of AI is on Class Central’s The Best Free Online Courses of All Time list.
Prometheus / Ukraine
Like many other MOOC platforms, Prometheus is a non-profit organization. It was launched in October 2014, and ipartners with Ukrainian universities and companies to launch free online courses. It has around 250 courses and more than 1.8 million registered users.
Open Education (openedu.ru) / Russia
This MOOC platform was created by the Association “National Platform of Open Education,” founded by leading universities: MSU, SPbPU, St. Petersburg State University, NUST, MISA, NRU “Higher School of Economics”, MIPT, UFU, and ITMO. It currently lists more than 780 courses.
MOOC Platforms from Asia (excluding Chinese Language MOOC Platforms)
SWAYAM / India
SWAYAM is India’s national MOOC platform. It offers over 2253 courses taught by close to 1,300 instructors from over 203 Indian universities. One aspect that sets it apart from other platforms is that it allows students in India to earn academic credit online. Since the platform was launched in 2017, the number of student enrollment has reached 21 million on SWAYAM. At the rate it’s growing, in a few years, SWAYAM could become the world’s largest MOOC platform.
NPTEL / India
The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is a collaborative project of some of India’s best higher education institutions to deliver university-level online courses covering engineering and science. NPTEL’s catalog has now been integrated into SWAYAM, India’s national MOOC platform. NPTEL also has a YouTube channel with over 1.9 million subscribers where you can watch the video-lessons that comprise their courses.
JMOOC / Japan
JMOOC is not really a MOOC platform, but it is a non-profit association aimed at promoting MOOC education in Japan. It has its own certification standards process which assesses the quality of MOOCs in Japan. The courses that pass this examination process are qualified as JMOOC-certified courses. The three Japanese MOOC platforms listed above all have courses that have been JMOOC certified. JMOOC currently offers 536 courses.
gacco / Japan
Gacco is a MOOC platform part of JMOOC (Japan Massive Open Online Education Promotion Council) that partners with universities in Japan to offer online courses in Japanese. Gacco has over 850k students enrolled on its platform. The MOOC platform has other features like peer grading and a premium face-to-face learning service.
Fisdom / Japan
Fisdom is another Japanese MOOC platform. It was launched in February last year by Fujitsu, a Japanese multinational company. Fisdom’s tagline is “Freedom is Wisdom. Knowledge is Freedom.”
OpenLearning / Japan
OpenLearning Japan, as the name suggests, is a MOOC platform. It was launched by Net Learning Inc., an education service company based in Japan.
K-MOOC / Korea
K-MOOC, or Korean MOOC, is the official MOOC platform of Korea. The MOOC platform was initiated by the Ministry of Education and first went live in 2015. Currently, it lists over 900 courses and around 140 participating institutions. Over 1.6 million learners have registered on the MOOC platform.
ThaiMOOC / Thailand
ThaiMOOC is one of the newest MOOC platforms in this list. It was launched in March 2017. It is the official MOOC platform for Thailand. The ThaiMOOC platform is built on Open edX and currently lists more than 500 courses.
IndonesiaX / Indonesia
IndonesiaX is a non-profit MOOC platform that offers MOOCs made by universities and companies in Indonesia. It was launched in August 2015 and currently offers almost 40 free online courses.
Edraak (Arabic) / Jordan
Edraak means “realization” in Arabic, and this is a non-profit Arabic MOOC platform. It was launched in May 2014 and is affiliated with the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development (QRF). Edraak has more than two million learners registered on the MOOC platform.
Campus-Il / Israel
Campus-Il is the national MOOC platform of Israel. The MOOC platform offers courses in Hebrew and Arabic. It is run by the Israeli Ministry of Social Equality. Courses are directed at an Israeli audience that includes university students and professors, high school students preparing for university, job seekers, and government workers. The MOOC platform also includes courses designed to serve underprivileged communities, on topics such as digital literacy and financial literacy.
Chinese Language MOOC Platforms
XuetangX / China
XuetangX is China’s first and biggest MOOC platform. It was founded in 2013 by Tsinghua University under the supervision of China’s Ministry of Education Research. It’s probably the fastest growing MOOC platform. When Class Central interviewed XuetangX’s Chairman of the Board back in October 2016, the MOOC platform had five million users. By the end of its 8th birthday on October 10 2021, XuetangX had crossed 80 million registered users.
The MOOC platform was originally built upon a heavily customized version of Open edX but moved away from it, redesigned the platform and went international in the beginning of 2020. Over 5000 free courses, boot camps and certificationprograms are offered on the MOOC platform.
XuetangX also has a cloud learning management system (LMS) product that is used by universities across China, and which has been used by more than 48 million Chinese students by the end of 2020.
Chinese University MOOC / China
Chinese University MOOC, also often called iCourse, is another massive Chinese MOOC platform. According to its “about” page, it is an online education platform launched by Netease and Higher Education Society. The MOOC platform went international with free courses in English in April 2020. This MOOC platform hosts over 10,000 free courses with free digital certificates from over 700 Chinese universities. Many courses have been reused as also credit SPOC for over a thousand of universities during the pandemic.
Zhihuishu / China
Zhihui Shu, which translates to “Wisdom Tree”, was launched in December 2012. The MOOC platform has the particularity of allowing its university partners to share credit-bearing courses with one another, which effectively facilitates academic credit mobility across China. It provides over 10,000 courses and over 1400 free courses are open for social learners with free certificates.
CNMOOC / China
In April 2014, Shanghai Jiao Tong University launched CNMOOC, a MOOC platform promoting the integration of MOOCs into China’s on-campus higher education system. The MOOC platform offers over 2700 courses and around 1400 of them provide free digital certificates.
Xue Yin Online / China
Xue Yin Online, launched in November 2017, was developed by The Open University of China and Chaoxing Group. The purpose of this MOOC platform is to serve as a “credit bank” for vocational skills, facilitating the transfer of credit and the recognition of prior learning across different universities. The MOOC platform offers nearly over 9000 free MOOCs with free digital certificates.
Open Education (openedu.tw) / Taiwan
Openedu.tw is a MOOC platform from Taiwan. The MOOC platform is based on Open edX and offers over 648 courses in subjects including computer science, business management, humanities and art.
eWant — education you want / Taiwan
eWant is a MOOC platform that was launched by National Chiao Tung University in 2013. National Chiao Tung University is one of Taiwan’s leading public research universities, located in Hsinchu, Taiwan. It hosts more than 2500 courses from over 90 different universities. The goal of this MOOC platform is to educate the global Chinese speaking population.
A massive list of all Chinese language MOOC platforms
At Class Central, we have further collected all Chinese language MOOC platforms and keep updating the massive list year by year to keep track of development of these MOOC platforms.