In Oct 2011, a few Stanford professors offered three online courses which were completely free. The strong public interest in these courses caught everyone by surprise. More than 100,000 people signed up—for each course.
This led to a feeling of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) across higher education and Silicon Valley, both of whom invested huge amounts of capital and resources to launch free online courses without any concrete plans to recoup the costs (or get return on their investment). Within two years, more than a 1,000 instructors from more than 150 universities had launched online courses.