Esri’s Free MOOC Program, with 150,000 Students, Sets a Reference in Corporate Education at Scale

Mikel Amigot | IBL News, Milwaukee

Esri, the Redlands, California-based company that manages the GIS mapping software, has been quietly developing a successful and free MOOC program, setting a reference in the corporate world for digital education at scale.

Esri’s MOOCs, now part of the Top 100 Free Online Courses list provided by Class Central, has attracted over 150,000 enrollments worldwide, as mentioned in an interview with IBL News. [Watch the interview below].

The most successful open course has been “Cartography”, with 80,000 learners.

So far, they have developed five MOOCs, ranging between 4-6 weeks long, and include certificates of completion, free of charge.

A sixth course, titled Spatial Data Science, is currently in the works. Esri’s passionate subject matter experts teach those online classes.

The completion rate numbers on these courses are as equally impressive, varying between 25% to 30%. “Our students must be more motivated than others,” Adena Schutzberg, MOOC Program Manager at Esri, explained.

Esri’s MOOC program was started by David DeBiase, a GIS instructor and manager within the company. His idea was based on expanding teaching while driving marketing opportunities.

In addition to MOOCs, Esri offers a hundred short classes intended to keep up with the fast-paced developments in geospatial technology. The corporation uses its own home-made LMS.

To promote active learning and engagement in courses, the MOOC instruction team nudged students toward active, independent and social learning.

“Our tough-love approach guided students to practice a skill needed for future success and provided the instruction team members with a new perspective on their roles in teaching and learning,” stated Adena Schutzberg.

She keynoted the last IEEE Learning with MOOCs conference, which took place in October 23-25 in Milwaukee, WI.

Her talk titled “Using Tough Love to Promote Active Learning” was exclusively recorded by IBL. [Watch it below]