First published on MIT CTL Medium

by Eva Ponce and Chris Caplice

A surge in the number of registrants and verified learners in the MITx MicroMasters® Program in Supply Chain Management attests to the increasing appeal of online education during the Covid-19 pandemic. The numbers also suggest that supply chain management — a subject popularized by the pandemic — is attracting a growing number of virtual learners.

The pandemic is transforming societies on many fronts. This trend, coupled with the rising demand for learning platforms that are more accessible and flexible, will permanently change the education landscape.

Growth in online learning by the numbers

A comparison of the spring/summer 2020 run of each SCx course — which coincides with the coronavirus crisis — with the previous three runs of that course, shows that the number of verified learners (who pay to certify that they passed the course) increased by an average of 84% across all five courses in the program. The number of people who verified in the program’s most popular course, Supply Chain Fundamentals (SC1x), increased dramatically by 104%. Total enrollment (verified plus the audit or free students) increased on average 43% across the five supply chain MicroMasters credential courses.

The number of registrants who stay the course has increased markedly. Moreover, the SC1x conversion rate (the ratio between the numbers of verified learners and registrants) during the pandemic ranges from 11% and 20% across the component courses. In comparison, for the 55 MicroMasters programs offered by almost two dozen universities, the average conversion rate was 2.5% in 2019. The exceptionally high ratio achieved by MIT CTL’s MicroMasters indicates that supply chain management is attracting more serious learners during the pandemic.

It should be noted that the SCx courses are rigorous, and completing them requires a lot of dedication, especially for individuals who have full-time jobs and other commitments. More than 80% of the students are professional, full-time workers, who dedicate an average of eight to 12 hours per week to their SCx studies.

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