Advancing MOOCs for Development Initiative (AMDI)

Advancing MOOCs for Development Initiative (AMDI)


AMDI aimed to advance Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by increasing awareness, conducting research, working with government policy makers, and fostering relationships with academic institutions and private-sector partners.

The project focused on MOOCs’ potential to improve education and workforce development outcomes in Colombia, the Philippines, and South Africa.

Quick Facts

According to the AMDI research report by TASCHA and IREX:

  • Low- and middle-income populations make up 80% of MOOC users, in contrast to wealthier populations reported elsewhere.
  • More than 80% of MOOC users only have basic or intermediate ICT skills, challenging the belief that MOOCs are predominantly taken by people with higher-level skills.
  • Women are more likely than men to complete a MOOC or obtain certification.
  • The main motivations of MOOC users were found to be in gaining specific job skills (61%), preparing for additional education (39%), and obtaining professional certification (37%).
  • Among nonusers, lack of time (50%) was by far the largest barrier to MOOC participation. Lack of computer access (4%) or skills (2%) were not found to be barriers.

An overview of MOOC users and nonusers in three developing countries

Advancing MOOCs for Development Initiative (AMDI)
Courtesy of the University of Washington's Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) through CC BY-SA 4.0.


AMDI’s goal was to promote the utilization of MOOCs as a resource for workforce development in emerging economies. The project focused on the following objectives:

  • Research, awareness raising, and promotion: Advance the understanding of (1) MOOC enrollment, (2) MOOC demographics, (3) general awareness about MOOCs, (4) local business community’s needs regarding MOOCs, and (5) government policies to promote e-learning.
  • Enrollment, certification, and completion: Identify key target populations that would benefit from MOOC usage and enrollment; research key factors that would improve MOOC completion rates; promote MOOCs nationally and in local communities in Colombia, the Philippines, and South Africa to better understand the obstacles associated with MOOC participation; and identify demographic attributes of MOOC users.
The overwhelming majority of people who complete MOOCs report career or educational benefits…. Economically and academically disadvantaged populations are taking particular advantage of MOOCs. “Who’s Benefitting from MOOCs, and Why,” Harvard Business Review, September 22, 2015

Project Activities

  • Research: IREX coordinated comprehensive research, conducted by TASCHA and three local partners, on current MOOC users and nonusers in Colombia, the Philippines, and South Africa. In Colombia, IREX and MAKAIA tested prototypes to increase MOOCs completion and certification rates.
  • Marketing: IREX and its partners promoted MOOC use through broad dissemination of the research findings, advocacy materials for infomediaries such as educators and librarians, and awareness raising events with government, academic, and private sector stakeholders.


Logos for USAID, TASCHA, CourseTalk, Makai, Universidad Manuela Beltran in Bogota, Rhodes University, and ideacorp


Laura Agosta,