Coronavirus pandemic gives boost to MOOCs

Erasmus School of Economics

A recent study of econometricians Prof. Philip Hans Franses and Dr Christiaan Heij of Erasmus School of Economics, shows that one of the effects of the early 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, is that online teaching experiences a boost in virtually all disciplines. This is also noticeable from the number of learners of the Erasmus School of Economics’ MOOC “Econometrics: Methods and Applications”.

New level of new learners

In the figure, Franses and Heij display the weekly new learners of the MOOC, where the data start in week 1 2017 (numbered 62 in the history of this MOOC) to week 28 of 2020 (week 245).

The peak in early 2020 is clearly visible and after that, there is a drop to what seems to be a new level of new learners. To quantify the level changes, Franses and Heij estimate a so-called smooth transition regimes model, where they allow for autocorrelation and for three different levels, that is, one before Corona, one during the peak of the Corona crisis and one thereafter.

Coronavirus pandemic more than doubles the interest

Franses and Heij find that the average of the weekly number of new learners is 325 before the Corona crisis. During the weeks 13 to 17 of 2020, this weekly average moves up to 1043. And then, from weeks 19 to 21 it levels off to 731, which seems to be the ‘new normal’. In other words, the Corona crisis more than doubled the interest in this MOOC.

MOOCs of Erasmus School of Economics

Erasmus School of Economics has developed three very successful Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). In 2015, it started with the launch of the MOOC Econometrics: Methods and Applications, which in less than 4 years reached over 100,000 enrolled learners. An all-time high record and by far the most successful open access, online education course of Erasmus University Rotterdam. It was followed in 2018 by the MOOC “Advanced Valuation & Strategy - M&A, Private Equity, and Venture Capital”. The latest MOOC, Enjoyable Econometrics, was launched in 2019 and has already attracted over 5,000 learners.

Assistant professor

Christiaan Heij


Philip Hans Franses

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