MOOCs: A force for good in the world


In recent years, the popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have literally exploded and today over 900 universities in the world offer more than 11.000 MOOCs on every imaginable topic. Equally impressing, over a 100 million students from all around the world are enrolled in these courses. At Hanken, we have joined the MOOC train by launching Principles of Service Management; the first ever MOOC on service management and marketing, taught by Professor Emeritus Christian Grönroos. We are currently in the middle of our second official run of the course (the first was in the autumn 2018), and it is super exciting to see over 1.000 learners with diverse backgrounds and experiences from almost 130 countries explore a service-based approach to business.


MOOCs have several advantages over traditional classroom education (disadvantages as well, but that’s a topic for another time). For example, they give excellent professors from highly ranked universities, such our own Christian Grönroos, access to thousands of students with no extra marginal cost per individual. And many of these students would never otherwise have the opportunity to study under these professors. Moreover, MOOCs allow students to learn at their own pace and go back and review lecture videos and materials whenever they want, as much as they want. Lastly, these courses can be accessed by anyone anywhere with an internet connection. You don’t even need a computer as most MOOC platforms are optimized for smartphones and tablets as well.


Interestingly, studies have shown that learners in developed countries use MOOCs mostly for personal interests, while participants from developing countries use these courses mainly for career advancement. Along the same line, completion rates are typically higher for students from developing countries than their developed world counterparts. Furthermore, participants from developing countries often come from low- and middle-income backgrounds without much formal higher education whereas MOOC learners from the developed world typically are well-educated and have higher-than-average incomes.


The key goal of MOOCs has always been to widen the access to high-quality education. And they have been rather successful in this regard. In fact, MOOCs nowadays provide a valuable lifeline for ambitious and eager-to-learn students in developing countries who cannot afford or otherwise access formal higher education. It has been amazing to see this first hand in our course Principles of Service Management, where some of our most engaged students come from developing countries such as India, Nigeria, and Myanmar.


From the first run of Principles of Service Management, I remember for example a young entrepreneur from Nigeria, who owns and operates a small transportation and logistics firm, and was eager to learn more about how he could improve his service delivery. Over 60% of our learners state in the end of course survey that they have already applied what they have learned in the course, which I think is great. Professor Grönroos, myself, and the entire MOOC team are proud of the contribution we make in the lives of many people from all around the world. It shows that Hanken takes its social responsibility seriously.



Gustav Medberg
Postdoctoral Researcher





Garrido, M., Koepke, L., Andersen, S., Mena, A. F., Macapagal, M. & Dalvit, L. (2016), The advancing MOOCs for development initiative: An examination of MOOC usage for professional workforce development outcomes in Colombia, the Philippines, & South Africa, Seattle: Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School. Available at:  


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