Micro-Masters Are the Future of Online Learning, Says edX's CEO


“The new micro-credentials are just-in-time learning in the right field. We think that is the future,” said Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX on an interview in Business Standard.

Mr. Agarwal explained that universities that don’t innovate may disappear over a period of time. He highlighted that companies are changing the way they view the credentials their employees hold.

  • “We have launched on edX a micro master’s. Why should you get a full master’s? You can get micro credentials. Say you are doing a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Math. But you want to work as a computer programmer. You can take a micro master’s in programming from edX. By the time you have your BA in math, you can have your Masters too and get a job in programming if you like.”
  • “As we talk to employers we find they are very excited about micro masters. Let’s say they hire a student after a bachelor’s degree and in India studies have shown that 95% of the bachelor graduates are unemployable. Imagine now they can all do micro masters and learn the skills to make them employable. And at a fraction of the time and cost. You are already working in a company. It’s not easy to go back and get a master’s. We think micro masters will solve this problem.”
  • “The courses are free. You pay for the certificate or the credential. You have to pay US $ 50-100 depending on the course. And companies are increasingly beginning to recognize these micro credentials and will place a value on them.”
  • “Why should a person go to college for four years? Why at the age of 18? Why a master’s following a undergraduate degree? I see the world becoming more unbundled, more micro – in everything. Learning is life long.”
  • “Today universities only give degrees. I think in the future they will give degrees and they will give micro credentials. Universities that refuse to innovate may suffer or die out. But the rest will thrive.”
  • “In 2011, my colleagues and I felt that technology had reached a point where one could teach people online in a way that has never been done before. People had done some online courses before but we felt we could use video gaming technology and apply it to learning. And create labs in various subjects – just like you play video games. One could create very engaging courses online.”