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MOOCs On Stage at the 2018 ASU + GSV Summit

Written by Laurie Pickard
3 minute read
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If you want to find the next big thing in education, you could do worse than to look for it at ASU + GSV. Now in its tenth year, the ASU + GSV Summit is an annual event focused on innovation in education, learning, and workforce development. The summit is a veritable who’s who of the education world. Speakers have included luminaries such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Sandra Day O’Connor, as well as innovators like Andrew Ng, Paul LeBlanc, and Sal Khan. In addition to the big names on the main stage, ASU GSV features pitches from dozens of education startups, and panel sessions that explore current themes in education innovation.

Six years after they burst onto the scene, MOOCs may no longer qualify as “next big thing” material. Still, MOOCs made a good showing at this year’s ASU GSV, including a panel discussion, two thought leader sessions, and at least two company pitches – one from FutureLearn CEO Simon Nelson and from Class Central’s own Dhawal Shah!

Below is our summary of what went down MOOC-wise at the 2018 ASU GSV Summit.

MOOCs After The “Madness”

The leaders of four major MOOC platforms appeared on stage together for the first time ever, in a panel session titled “MOOCs After The ‘Madness.’” The madness in question refers to the hype that surrounded MOOCs in their early days.  Panelists Vishal Makhijani, CEO of Udacity; Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera; Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX; and Li Chao, President of XuetangX, the Chinese MOOC platform, discussed where the MOOC industry currently stands. The panel was moderated by Louise Rogers, a strategic advisory board member for GSV Acceleration.

The moderator began with a roundup of statistics on MOOCs (numbers of learners, number of courses, etc. Note: These numbers were taken from Class Central’s analysis!). Much of the subsequent discussion focused on the MOOC platforms’ emerging focus on industry partnerships. The panelists agreed on the importance of platform and network effects for driving their businesses, with the MOOC providers acting as a connector between academic institutions and industry. They also agreed that education is rapidly changing, as delivery becomes more modular, multi-channel, and responsive to the real-time needs of workers and industry.

Check out the full discussion in the video below.

Thought Leaders: Udacity, Coursera, and FutureLearn

The CEOs of both Udacity and Coursera gave 20-minute “Thought Leader” sessions. Udacity’s CEO Vishal Makhijani started his talk with some statistics on the company, which now has over 400 employees, more than eight million registered users, and more than 50,000 paying students. Makhijani framed his remarks by presenting a problem: “By 2030 over 370 million people will require retraining because their skills will become obsolete.” Udacity’s solution: the Nanodegree, a focused, vocational-style technical training meant to lead immediately to new job opportunities. Makhijani spent the bulk of his remarks talking about the new Nanodegrees the company has released, student success stories, and new features of older Nanodegree programs.

Like Udacity’s CEO, Coursera’s CEO Jeff Maggioncalda spoke about a need for learning to keep up with needs of the workplace. Maggioncalda focused on the relationships Coursera has built with industry, highlighting what he referred to as the “learning ecosystem” the company has built. Unlike earlier online training providers, the MOOC platforms are offering university content. This has proved to be a key selling point for corporate clients. Maggioncalda predicted an explosion of different learning options, modalities, pathways, and credentials. “Because the world is changing so quickly, and there is a huge economic value to keeping up with that change, learning will be valued and learning will be rewarded. If learning is rewarded, then a lot more people are going to learn a lot more stuff.”

Company: FutureLearn

Simon Nelson, the CEO of FutureLearn didn’t have any slides, but described FutureLearn while demoing the mobile interace.

Company: Class Central

Finally, Class Central’s founder Dhawal Shah graced the stage to present the business he has built over the past six years. Watch his short talk to learn more about our history, the team, and what we see as Class Central’s key strengths.