Imagine a MOOC learner: Who is she? How old is she? Where does she live? Anant Agarwal, the CEO of edX, recently wrote a blog post on HuffPost Education that highlighted the diversity of MOOC learners and their goals:

MOOC learners are diverse, coming from many cultures across the globe and all ages and backgrounds. For instance, edX learners, who now number two million, range in ages from eight to 95, come from every country in the world and have varying levels of education. We see learners from elementary schoolers to Ph.D.s. Despite this diversity, three main attributes unite them: A desire to learn, a desire to connect to a global community and a desire to experience and consume content online.

The goals of our learners are as diverse as they are. When they first enroll in a course, some may be interested in engaging with homework or other interactive labs, or in completing the coursework to earn a certificate (we call these “active learners”). Others may simply want to browse and view a few of the videos. Data collected from edX shows that approximately 56 percent of learners rated “gaining understanding of the subject matter for lifelong learning,” as an extremely important reason for taking an edX course, and another 57 percent cite “learning from the best professors in the world.” However, only 27 percent rated “earning a certificate of mastery to add to my professional credentials,” as an extremely important reason for enrolling in a course. Read the entire post here.

Browse the listings on edX and enroll in a MOOC yourself. And if your goal is to earn a certificate, we have courseware related to MITx MOOCs to help you study.