Only 10% Enrolled Students Complete Massive Open Online Courses

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become an excellent way of offering quality education to virtually anyone around the globe, mostly for free. But a new study shows that students in these courses rarely make it to the end.


The problem with online education is that it is an excellent medium but a flimsy instructor. Students are generally aware of the treasure-trove of online courses and often enroll in the ones they like, but over time it is easier to skip over these online lectures and course notes compared to regular classes. The inevitable results is that a huge majority of those enrolled at the start of different MOOCs fall out.

Researcher Katy Jordan has sifted through the data of 279 courses from some of the most popular MOOC hosts such as Coursera and Udacity. According to her findings, each of these MOOCs enroll 43,000 students on average. Of these, only 6.5% make it all the way till the end of the course.

MOOCs success rate

After making some lenience in the evaluation criterion, she says that the most optimistic estimate would peg this number at 9.8%. So a general estimate would be that of the 43,000 students enrolled in a given course, only 4300 make it to the end. Another interesting part of the study reveals that the longer a course it, the fewer will be the number of students staying to complete it.

MOOCs success rate

Jordan writes in her study, “It is misleading to invoke early enrolment and completion figures as representative of the phenomenon. Six-figure enrolments are atypical, with the median average enrolment being 42,844 students, and decreasing over time as the number of courses available continues to increase.”

While these results are a tad bit disappointing for MOOCs, let’s not overlook the fact that some 4300 students per course make it to the end and benefit from a free course while sitting at their homes. This is certainly a huge accomplishment on the part of the MOOCs.

What remains to be improved is that MOOCs need better instructors. Students should feel responsible for being enrolled in these courses and they ought to feel that they have somewhat at stake for missing out on the lectures. And that can be accomplished in a whole lot of ways.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

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Salman Latif is a software engineer with a specific interest in social media, big data and real-world solutions using the two.Other than that, he is a bit of a gypsy. He also writes in his own blog. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter .

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