As online learning continues to spread in popularity, the University of Oxford has announced that it will begin offering “massive open online courses”, or MOOCs.

In the U.S., MOOCs have seen a gradual rise in popularity as a mode of learning over the past few years, as more universities and students are opting for the method.

In the UK, however, the movement has yet to gain much traction, but Oxford is hoping to tap into its potential.

The university’s first MOOC will be an economics course run via popular MOOCs platform edX.

You can sign up for the course, called “From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development“, which will commence from February 2017.

Led by Sir Paul Collier, professor of economics and public policy at the university’s Blavatnik School of Government, students on the course will get the opportunity to examine the role that governments play in boosting economic development.

Blavatnik’s dean, Ngaire Woods, said the online course would be “an effective way to expand access to knowledge beyond the classrooms of Oxford”, reported the BBC.

Before this, Oxford has made many of its resources available online, such as short courses through its Department for Continuing Education, but offering MOOCs is new territory.

Major e-learning platforms such as edX and Coursera in the U.S. and FutureLearn in the UK offer users free mini-courses, which can be accessed anywhere in the world with a decent internet connection.

According to proponents of online learning, making courses available online makes them more accessible and affordable, but its critics doubt its effectiveness in the teaching and retention of knowledge.

In a recent survey conducted by the Council of Independent Colleges and the Learning House, researchers found that the share of U.S. private colleges that offer five or more fully online programs has grown from 15 percent in 2013 to 25 percent this year.

Respondent colleges also reported increased student access, increased enrollment, and increased revenue as the top three outcomes.

There are currently nine million learners registered on edX, which runs more than 900 online courses from top universities around the world, including Harvard, MIT, University of California, Berkeley in the U.S., Peking University in China and Sorbonne University in France as well as the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London in the UK.

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