From learners to earners: Enabling MOOC learners to apply their skills and earn money in an online market place

Guanliang Chen, Dan Davis, Markus Krause, Efthimia Aivaloglou, Claudia Hauff, Geert-Jan Houben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) aim to educate the world. More often than not, however, MOOCs fall short of this goal - a majority of learners are already highly educated (with a Bachelor's degree or more) and come from specific parts of the (developed) world. Learners from developing countries without a higher degree are underrepresented, though desired, in MOOCs. One reason for those learners to drop out of a course can be found in their financial realities and the subsequent limited amount of time they can dedicate to a course besides earning a living. If we could pay learners to take a MOOC, this hurdle would largely disappear. With MOOCS, this leads to the following fundamental challenge: How can learners be paid at scale? Ultimately, we envision a recommendation engine that recommends tasks from online market places such as Upwork or witmart to learners, that are relevant to the course content of the MOOC. In this manner, the learners learn and earn money. To investigate the feasibility of this vision, in this paper, we explored to what extent (1) online market places contain tasks relevant to a specific MOOC, and (2) learners are able to solve real-world tasks correctly and with sufficient quality. Finally, based on our experimental design, we were also able to investigate the impact of real-world bonus tasks in a MOOC on the general learner population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-274
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • educational data mining
  • Learning analytics
  • learning design
  • MOOC

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