MOOCs started out with a structure parallel to college classroom courses, with a start date and an end date, and specific deadlines for assignments/homework. Usually, these courses were offered once or twice a year, similar to university courses.
Unlike on-campus students who are required to prioritize their learning, most online learners fit their courses around their existing work, family, and social commitments.
Providers began moving to a model where courses are available more often. Back in 2016, Coursera moved to a flexible session-based model – wherein courses are now starting on a regular schedule (monthly/bi-weekly) and learners can carry over their progress to the next session if they fall behind.
According to Coursera, this approach was better than the self-paced model because it allowed for more community interaction. But now, for a majority of MOOCs, the community is no longer a major selling point.
In an investigation by Class Central, we found that most Coursera courses show a start date that corresponds to the day you visit the course page. Out of the 3,800+ courses currently listed on Coursera, over 90% follow this pattern.
Only around 270 courses follow the old flexible session-based model while the rest are finished or haven’t launched yet.