The Best MOOCs


If you had to select the best Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platforms, how would you do it? You could compile the individual course ratings offered on each system (see or you could do what several people do when choosing a program; look at university rankings to give you an indication of the quality of the academic programs.

With the help of 9 world university rakings, we rated the top 4 MOOCs platforms (Coursera, edX, Futurelearn and Udacity) by compiling the ratings of the partnering institutions in order to find the best MOOCs. How did we do this?

The following example is for Harvard University, a parnering university of edX.

We simply compile all 9 World Rankings and average the ranks. This average is then added with the other partnering universities and averaged.

University ARWU G-factor HEEACT Leiden QS World SCImago Times HigherED UR by AP Webometrics AVG.
Harvard University 1 5 1 2 3 1 4 1 1 1.3

In the first section of the visualisation below, we can see that edX has the best overall ranking.

General observations

As stated in my last post on MOOCs, the partnering institutions have been hand-picked. The overall average of the 9 world rankings is between 70 and 95. With the recent announcement of Stanford teaming up with edX, Stanford is distancing itself from Coursera and Udacity to whom it is also partnered. Since Stanford University is ranked in the top 10 of almost all 9 Rankings, edX’s lead will grow.

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  1. Reply MOOC News & Reviews

    To find the best MOOC, you could also check out our site. 🙂 We take a far more subjective approach by posting extended critiques by individual students who have completed individual courses and who can talk about the influence of that class in their own lives. For example, one contributor has picked apart which platforms have discussion forums that actually aid the learning process. Another has a complete guide for students choosing between cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

    Ranking MOOC platforms by the influence of the institutions they affiliate with is a powerful way to look at them. But I think MOOCs have the potential to upend the significance of the institutional affiliation in the same way that Blogger upends the significance of an affiliation with newspapers. Like anyone can be a publisher, anyone can be an online teacher, and some rock-star professors unaffiliated with these well-ranked universities or platforms will emerge. After all, the most popular teacher in the world right now is Sal Khan, just a guy messing around with MS Paint and a YouTube page after work and who eventually got funded by a university dropout. Khan Academy is not exactly a MOOC, but a similar ranking of the best online ed platforms, sorted by university rankings, would have left him out.

    The flat world metaphor applied to MOOCs means anyone in the world potentially becomes a student at Harvard, which is exciting. But also exciting is that the metaphor also applies to the producer end. Anyone can put up their product alongside Harvard’s. The best MOOC may not have anything to do with any of these platforms.

    Robert McGuire
    Editor, MOOC News and Reviews

    • Reply Justin Menard

      Thanks for your comment Robert.

      There are definitely other ways of rating MOOCs and you seem to be doing a good one on your site. Sadly, I think that the prestige of a partnering institution still remains an important factor in the selection of an online course. Hopefully that will change…

      • Reply MOOC News & Reviews

        I’m probably being too optimistic. I’ve heard from a few people in the last week say students should make choices by starting with the prestige of the institution. One of our contributors this week even started her review this week making that argument.


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