The Big Problem for MOOCs Visualized

mooc completionMOOCs — they’re get­ting a lot of hype, in part because they promise so much, and in part because you hear about stu­dents sign­ing up for these cours­es in mas­sive num­bers. 60,000 signed up for Duke’s Intro­duc­tion to Astron­o­my on Cours­era. 28,500 reg­is­tered for Intro­duc­tion to Sol­id State Chem­istry on edX. Impres­sive fig­ures, to be sure. But then the shine comes off a lit­tle when you con­sid­er that 3.5% and 1.7% of stu­dents com­plet­ed these cours­es respec­tive­ly. That’s accord­ing to a Visu­al­iza­tion of MOOC Com­ple­tion Rates assem­bled by edu­ca­tion­al researcher Katy Jor­dan, using pub­licly avail­able data. Accord­ing to her research, MOOCs have gen­er­at­ed 50,000 enroll­ments on aver­age, with the typ­i­cal com­ple­tion rate hov­er­ing below 10%. Put it some­where around 7.5%, or 3,700 com­ple­tions per 50,000 enroll­ments. If you click the image above, you can see inter­ac­tive data points for 27 cours­es.

If you’re a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist, you’re prob­a­bly a lit­tle less wowed by 3,700 stu­dents tak­ing a free course. And if you’re a uni­ver­si­ty, you might be under­whelmed by these fig­ures too, see­ing that the aver­age MOOC costs $15,000-$50,000 to pro­duce, while pro­fes­sors typ­i­cal­ly invest 100 hours in build­ing a MOOC, and anoth­er 8–10 hours per week teach­ing the mas­sive course. And then don’t for­get the wince-induc­ing con­tract terms offered by MOOC providers like edX — terms that make it hard to see how a uni­ver­si­ty will recoup any­thing on their MOOCs in the com­ing years.

Right now, uni­ver­si­ties are pro­duc­ing MOOCs left and right, and it’s a great deal for you, the stu­dents. (See our list of 300 MOOCs.) But I’ve been around uni­ver­si­ties long enough to know one thing — they don’t shell out this much cash light­ly. Nor do pro­fes­sors sink 100 hours into cre­at­ing cours­es that don’t count toward their required teach­ing load. We’re in a hon­ey­moon peri­od, and, before it’s over, the raw num­ber of stu­dents com­plet­ing a course will need to go up — way up. Remem­ber, the MOOC is free. But it’s the fin­ish­ers who will pay for cer­tifi­cates and get placed into jobs for a fee. In short, it’s the fin­ish­ers who will cre­ate the major rev­enue streams that MOOC cre­ators and providers are cur­rent­ly rely­ing on.

We have our own thoughts on what the MOOC providers need to do. But today we want to hear from those who start­ed a MOOC and opt­ed not to fin­ish. In the com­ments sec­tion below, please tell us what kept you from reach­ing the end. You’ll get extra points for hon­esty!

via O’Reil­ly

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Comments (56)
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  • Manuel says:

    What kept me from reach­ing the end in some cours­es?

    The cours­es vary a lot in their qual­i­ty. I start all cours­es that sound inter­est­ing, look at their mate­r­i­al and then drop most of them until I’m down to the num­ber of cours­es that I can real­is­ti­cal­ly man­age every week and then I drop more cours­es after notic­ing that I also have to sit in real uni­ver­si­ty cours­es and that my plans were too opti­mistic.

  • Fran says:

    I start­ed to take a MOOC about the Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion. The resources pro­vid­ed were good. But many of the lec­tures were slow — I would have pre­ferred to read that mate­r­i­al. And the stuff for stu­dents to do was sil­ly — fill in points on a time­line? Real­ly? And the “dis­cus­sion ques­tions” were flat — “what do you think about this issue?”

    Not enough there to engage me.

    I’m tak­ing anoth­er course, through Cours­era, about ADHD. I’m at week 3. Inter­est­ing lec­tures, inter­est­ing read­ings, some quizzes that force me to pay atten­tion. Dis­cus­sions forums are a bit of a free-for-all, but very engag­ing. So far, I’m stick­ing with it.

  • Sumit Anand says:

    Two Rea­sons:

    I have real­ized that i get bored and sleepy watch­ing online videos which is a case with many oth­ers

    The course con­tent is often not as excit­ing as it seemed by the name of the course

  • Theophan says:

    I have writ­ten a blog post on the top­ic only 2 weeks ago try­ing to pin­point the prob­lem. I think it’s very much the design of online cours­es that come short —

  • Tim says:

    I’ve start­ed about 10 MOOCs and earned 2 cer­tifi­cates and almost have a 3rd. A cou­ple of the class­es I audit­ed for infor­ma­tion only.

    I’ve found that the forums are less than use­ful. I spend about 30 sec­onds week­ly on the forums max.

    PPT and hand­outs are a mixed bag. Some good, some not so good.

    The qual­i­ty of the lec­tures over­all has been out­stand­ing. I have a MS and 2 BS degrees from brick and mor­tars. I’d rate the lec­tur­ers in the MOOCs at the top of all the instruc­tion.

    BTW, I LOVE Open Cul­ture!

  • kareem zyd says:

    it is not easy to learn some­thing very quick­ly and you can’t judge these cours­es on the sta­tis­ti­cal lev­el because it is just a start to them, sci­ence has no end and that’s i must learn from the MOOC’s that are many and diverse, i also signed up for many cours­es because it is inter­est­ing to do that, but after one month, i real­ized that i must chose what keep me in cope with my study, which is engi­neer­ing

  • Jeremy says:

    I’ve dropped 2 cours­es out of the 6 I’ve enrolled in. One of the cours­es I dropped had indi­cat­ed no pre­req­ui­sites, but required some pret­ty advanced math­e­mat­ics knowl­edge; the sec­ond course I dropped sim­ply required more effort than I was will­ing to put out dur­ing a busy peri­od at work. I’ve fin­ished 1 course, I’m past the half-way point in 2 oth­ers, and I have anoth­er about to start tomor­row.

    Gen­er­al­ly, I count on the cours­es being inter­est­ing but not ter­ri­bly dif­fi­cult — I don’t expect to have to do much beyond watch the video lec­tures and read a cou­ple hours per week. If I’m spend­ing more than about 1.5 hours/day total, I need to back off and drop some­thing.

  • Nadathos says:

    This was to be expect­ed.
    I have com­plet­ed all of the online cours­es I’ve been inter­est­ed in over the past year, albeit from a per­son­al point of view. That means I’ve watched/read all the mate­ri­als and tried to under­stand all the assign­ments, occa­sion­al­ly read­ing up addi­tion­al con­tent in my own books and oth­er sources. What has kept me with 2 excep­tions, from com­plet­ing the course from the cer­tifi­cate view­point are oth­er oblig­a­tions. A doc­tor­al the­sis to be writ­ten for real cred­it that might allow me one day to earn a liv­ing in an aca­d­e­m­ic set­ting.
    What I con­clude from this is, that the cer­tifi­cates offered in this new way aren’t yet equiv­a­lent to those offered by region­al, tra­di­tion­al insti­tu­tions. Nobody will pay you more or let you jump on a class of next-gen green­horn stu­dents, just because you’ve an online cer­tifi­cate in some intro­duc­tion course.
    Anoth­er fac­tor for me is the fact, that I don’t need a cer­tifi­cate to know things. If I can learn and if I can apply, that is enough for all free activ­i­ties, like inven­tion, com­men­tary, writ­ing or every sort of con­clu­sion one might make from his/her knowl­edge. Most of the stuff I learn, I want to under­stand sim­ply, which means that the addi­tion­al hours in per­fec­tion­iz­ing, study­ing for an exam, solv­ing a pre-defined prob­lem that might not inter­est me in my cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in life, is not nec­es­sary or even a loss of time.

    Now with this back­ground, it’s in every­body’s inter­est to keep these cours­es, also the non-cer­tifi­cate ones, live. But even with­out uni­ver­si­ties, the amount of high qual­i­ty learn­ing mate­r­i­al goes up every hour. Uni­ver­si­ties, being a real-life, run­ning insti­tu­tion who needs to main­tain itself, must rethink their posi­tion in the social fab­ric. Would it suf­fice to charge a min­i­mal price for these cours­es? 5Eur/$, 10 per person/year? /course? Charge oth­er uni­ver­si­ties, when stu­dents are enrolled their, but still seek the addi­tion­al knowl­edge?
    Charge for help, sem­i­nars, tutors, forums, while leav­ing the con­tent itself free? Mak­ing the cer­tifi­cate real­ly worth­wile, for exam­ple, by giv­ing cred­its and grades, not just a pass/fale state­ment? Or issu­ing cer­tifi­cates for a series of cours­es, like a whole branch of a sci­ence, or cours­es on spe­cif­ic, high­ly impor­tant and advanced top­ics?
    In this respect I might point out, that aca­d­e­m­ic cer­tifi­cates are in gen­er­al free for stu­dents under a cer­tain age in some coun­tries. What addi­tion­al val­ue does one real­ly get from an online cer­tifi­cate, that would jus­ti­fy it’s price and the time spent on it?
    I can only hope that the now nec­es­sary deci­sions on this top­ic won’t be made in a too hasty, too read­i­ly neg­a­tive sense. It would be easy to just cut this ven­ture, call­ing it a loss and get on with the old-school busi­ness of shar­ing knowl­edge hid­den by impres­sive walls and men­tal bar­ri­ers. The oth­er way involves some kind of rev­o­lu­tion, where more peo­ple with more knowl­edge, won’t get equal­ly wealthy just because of their knowl­edge, with­out a soci­ety wide change in per­spec­tive. Here, one might be forced to immag­ine, what effect it will have in the long run, when more peo­ple will be qual­i­fied to do, eval­u­ate, ammend things, with­out being employed in the respec­tive pro­fes­sions. This could enforce qual­i­ty in every field, by force of qual­i­fied cri­tique, but this is no nec­es­sary vari­able in eco­nom­ic cal­cu­la­tion.
    One last point con­cerns the num­bers: On a glob­al scale, or even on a scale of peo­ple, who are suf­fi­cient­ly con­fi­dent in using the eng­lish lan­guage, these num­bers are not at all impres­sive. Not even the num­ber of total par­tic­i­pants. The free knowl­edge has not yet reached it’s poten­tial audi­ence. The notion of free dis­tri­b­u­tion works with a suf­fi­cient amount of inter­est­ed people/customers. Even on tra­di­tion­al uni­ver­si­ties, the num­ber of peo­ple fin­ish­ing with a high­er degree might be some­thing like 25% of the ini­tial begin­ners. Lets guess that over time the num­ber of peo­ple aim­ing for cer­tifi­cates will pin itself to the aver­age, about 15%, every­body else gain­ing in a pri­vate fash­ion. Then you would need some­thing around 350 000 peo­ple inter­est­ed in your course.
    Where I live, the num­ber of stu­dents in one city is more than 1% of the coun­tries inhab­i­tants. This means that this num­ber is rea­son­able, even only in the US, let alone Europe and Asia, Africa and South Amer­i­ca, where the large amount of win­ners in this game live. This opens the way to anoth­er two pos­si­bil­i­ties: some mar­ket­ing to enlargen the num­ber of inter­est­ed peo­ple; and series of cours­es with large sig­nif­i­cants to many: how stuff works, essen­tial skills in pro­fes­sions, and social advan­tages.
    I for one, will con­tin­ue to soak up as much as pos­si­ble, as long as it lasts.

  • Crystal says:

    I start­ed a great Dig­i­tal Sto­ry­telling class and I was real­ly enjoy­ing it. I did all of the assign­ments for sev­er­al weeks and was inter­act­ing with oth­er stu­dents, Skyp­ing with peo­ple in Japan and it was cool. But my life was too busy. If it was a class I was pay­ing for and grades were an issue, I would have stayed up until the wee hours of the morn­ing to con­tin­ue, but since it was­n’t, I did­n’t. I need­ed sleep more than fin­ish­ing the course.

  • Val says:

    The for­mat of the MOOCs needs to change. This is the Inter­net, it has so much poten­tial, charts, videos, graph­ics. We should not try to just bring a brick and mor­tar lec­ture to your liv­ing room. Use the resources avail­able and make the learn­ing engag­ing with short­er seg­ments and more than just a lec­ture. The goal should be to teach and teach bet­ter. If one of these online uni­ver­si­ties can fig­ure that out then the mon­ey will fol­low.

  • Robert says:

    I have signed up for 7 cours­es, com­plet­ed 5,unable to com­plete one due to com­put­er prob­lems and quit one because the math was too intense. All in all I have been very sat­is­fied with the course con­tent pre­sent­ed and would glad­ly pay a few dol­lars to sign up for oth­er cours­es. I am 77 years old and do this for added knowl­edge.

  • David Wees says:

    The oth­er issue that I have heard is that it is dif­fi­cult to tell how much actu­al learn­ing of new mate­r­i­al has occurred. In one study I read, a major MOOC had a small num­ber of peo­ple com­plete the course, but almost half of the peo­ple who com­plet­ed it had already had at least some expo­sure to the mate­r­i­al — and many of them had degrees in it! This makes these num­bers seem even less impres­sive.

  • karen b. says:

    I’ve start­ed and stopped four, com­plet­ed one, and signed up for tons that I end­ed up run­ning out of time to take. The one I com­plet­ed (Intro to Genet­ics and Evo­lu­tion) was my first MOOC and spoiled me for the oth­ers. I start­ed an Astron­o­my course but had to drop it because it was going on at the same time as the math-heavy part of my Genet­ics course, and the com­bined amount of maths would have made my brain explode.

    Out of the oth­er three I dropped: one was just hor­ri­bly orga­nized, mate­r­i­al-wise, and the require­ments were dif­fi­cult to under­stand, and on top of that there were tons of errors because they put mate­r­i­al on Google Dri­ve and too many peo­ple were access­ing it at once; one I dropped because the course con­tent did­n’t match my expec­ta­tions, and it took up too much time for what it was; and one I almost fin­ished but end­ed up hav­ing a busy cou­ple of weeks at work so I was­n’t able to do the peer-grad­ed assign­ment. I’m moti­vat­ed by the cer­tifi­cate, so once that was tak­en off the table due to my 0 for the assign­ment, I decid­ed to try to retake it lat­er.

    I am very, very hap­py about being able to be so picky, and I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting back in the swing of them once I get a lit­tle more free time.

  • I start­ed two and quick­ly had to opt out as I’m also in the mid­dle of doing a Mas­ters. My hope from the cours­es was they would add to the course con­tent I’m already tak­ing. The MOOCs were too rich — a good thing. Just did­n’t have time to do all the work. I hope they’re still run­ning in 2 years when I fin­ish this degree. Love the learn­ing.

    The one point I would stress for MOOC suc­cess is that they get their tech­ni­cal issues sort­ed out more quick­ly than they cur­rent­ly are.

  • Jenn says:

    Sin­cere­ly, I was­n’t tak­ing into account that I was already work­ing and study­ing and went ahead and enrolled a World Music course, of course, short­ly I saw myself so full of things to do that I neglect­ed some work stuff… I’m not done I plan to enroll anoth­er course in the future when I fin­ish my degree.

  • Jonathan says:

    I haven’t dropped any­thing yet, but I may have to for rea­sons of time since I’m jug­gling as many as 6–7 online cours­es simul­ta­ne­ous­ly as part of an exper­i­ment to see if one can learn the equiv­a­lent of a BA degree in one year using only free learn­ing tools.

    If I do decide to drop, it will like­ly be due to some of the time issues I’m dis­cussing this week at

  • don carleton says:

    The cours­es are just as bor­ing and repet­i­tive as going to a lec­ture hall on a cam­pus some­where in the waste­land of he mid­dle west.

  • TJW says:

    3.5% if 60,000 is quite a lot of peo­ple com­plet­ing class­es. At least there are that many peo­ple inter­est­ed in what’s going on with MOOCs.
    I have signed up for many MOOCs. I check them out, par­tic­i­pate a lit­tle, then decide if I want to go fur­ther. I wlll drop if it’s a class that was­n’t what I expect­ed, is going to take too much time (con­sid­er­ing oth­er class­es I am in at the same time) although I may enroll again lat­er. Some­times I can’t afford the read­ing mate­r­i­al, but I can still par­tic­i­pate in the class by watch­ing lec­tures, which is not even an option in a typ­i­cal col­lege class. I like that a lot.
    The free­dom to pick and choose how I par­tic­i­pate in a class takes a lot of stress off. And I’m not los­ing hun­dreds of dol­lars if I find I don’t have time to do some part of the course halfway through. I also like the fact that I can take on class at a time. In the typ­i­cal col­lege, you have to take sev­er­al, of what­ev­er is offered that semes­ter, if you get finan­cial aid.
    I pre­fer MOOCs to the class­es I took in col­lege for one major rea­son: My class­es don’t drag on for­ev­er because of the ram­blings of blowhard stu­dents that want to sound intel­li­gent. It still goes on in large quan­ti­ty, but I don’t have to sit through it. I just don’t par­tic­i­pate in the forums.
    I love the MOOCs and the free­dom that comes with them. I don’t see a down­side. I’m very grate­ful for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in them.

  • Karen Winding says:

    It’s a good ques­tion for Dan Ariely, who’s teach­ing “A Begin­ner’s Guide to Irra­tional­i­ty” on Cours­era as we speak. Peo­ple use hedo­nic cal­cu­lus to eval­u­ate the ben­e­fits, both before sign­ing up and dur­ing the class. The pay-off decreas­es as the work­load increas­es and it becomes dif­fi­cult for most peo­ple to come up with a pos­i­tive answer in the equa­tion. These class­es are not easy and are time-con­sum­ing — you must have your own clear­ly defined ben­e­fit to com­plete one. Those of us who do (I’ve com­plet­ed 2 out of 2 and am active­ly tak­ing 1 now) find the plea­sure worth the pain because we high­ly val­ue the result — even if the result is per­son­al growth (val­ued high­ly by me).

  • Luis says:

    I start­ed a course about Pro­fes­sion­al Eng­lish in a plat­form for MOOCs in Span­ish, Miridi­ax. The rea­son was that I dis­cov­ered that the lev­el of Eng­lish was too basic for me, so I was wast­ing my time with that course.

    Besides, I am cur­rent­ly study­ing the course ‘The mod­ern world: glob­al His­to­ry from 1760”. It is real­ly great, but I am very delayed watch­ing the videos and doing the quizzes, and I prob­a­bly won’t get the final cer­tifi­cate. How­ev­er, the cer­tifi­cate isn’t impor­tant for me, I am study­ing the course only for inter­est in the top­ic; so, even though I did­n’t get the cer­tifi­cate, I will down­load all the videos, with the inten­tion of watch­ing them even when the course have fin­ished.

    And I enrolled in two cours­es more in Cours­era and then unen­rolled before they start­ed, because I under­stood that I was­n’t going to have enough time for them. Some­times, there are amny inter­est­ing cours­es to study for free, and lit­tle time for all of them.

  • Paul says:

    Vin­cent Tin­to, one of the lead­ing experts on stu­dent per­sis­tence and reten­tion, says that it is impor­tant to note that drop­ping out of col­lege is real­ly only a prob­lem if the stu­dent con­sid­ers it so. The same applies to MOOCs. Peo­ple have all dif­fer­ent rea­sons for sign­ing up. Peo­ple have all dif­fer­ent goals. If they meet their goals with­out doing what­ev­er it takes to fin­ish a MOOC, that is hard­ly a prob­lem.
    Most of the MOOCs I joined did not include any assess­ments. The ones that have quizzes and assess­ments, in my expe­ri­ence, main­ly have them for the sake of hav­ing tests. If they don’t do any­thing for me as a learn­er, I’m not going to waste my time with them. In these cas­es, even if I par­tic­i­pate active­ly and get every­thing I want out of the course, I will be con­sid­ered one of the “fail­ures.”

  • Lukas Blakk says:

    I’ve start­ed many cours­es, signed up for things that looked inter­est­ing and have so far (in the past cou­ple of years) com­plet­ed only about 2 pro­grams. One was the Web Apps course on Udac­i­ty and the oth­er was the jQuery track on CodeA­cad­e­my.

    I found the Udac­i­ty web app course very well designed and easy to pick up and put down. I enjoyed the for­mat of short learn­ing mod­ules, quizzes, and then doing an assign­ment on my own at some point in the week. The com­mit­ment to the class was only 7 weeks and that also worked for me.

    Now, here’s what does­n’t work (for me). I want to learn chal­leng­ing mate­r­i­al but I real­ly have to be engaged for only 5–10 min­utes per mod­ule. Oth­er­wise I can’t com­mit to show­ing up and com­plet­ing a mod­ule. I need to have a saved progress to see that I’m chip­ping away at a com­plete course. I like inter­ac­tive, auto­mat­ed quiz/grading//coding but it has to work and not leave me stuck either unable to progress, or unable to have a mod­ule I com­plet­ed (but for soft­ware error) left unmarked. It seems like there’s always a dearth of mid-lev­el mate­ri­als. That’s what the web aps course did well — it hit the sweet spot of tak­ing what i already know and let­ting me build on it. Often pro­gram­ming cours­es are too easy and have no end results and then uni­ver­si­ty cours­es involve too much time (hour+ long video lec­tures?!).

  • Bon says:

    Echo­ing the few com­ments here that note that non-com­ple­tion of MOOCs isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a prob­lem. Not say­ing it’s not a prob­lem or the fault of the MOOC in some cas­es, only that reten­tion and com­ple­tion are orga­ni­za­tion frame­works put around learn­ing by insti­tu­tions for man­age­ment and cre­den­tial­ing pur­pos­es, not for learn­ing’s sake.

    I have par­tic­i­pat­ed in about six MOOCs over the past three years. Most­ly I do so out of inter­est. I’m a pro­fes­sion­al edu­ca­tor inter­est­ed in online edu­ca­tion, and in MOOCs them­selves. I sign on to get a feel for the envi­ron­ment and how they oper­ate, and to see the mate­ri­als, and to engage and make con­tacts with peo­ple and explore ideas aloud with them, in con­ver­sa­tion. Some­times I do for­mal assign­ments, to push myself — often I don’t. Because that’s not why I’m there.

    In the orig­i­nal MOOCs, the prime goal was par­tic­i­pa­tion and knowl­edge gen­er­a­tion rather than mas­tery of some pre­de­ter­mined set of ideas or out­comes. That has val­ue in a soci­ety of life­long learn­ers. The idea that we all need to swal­low and com­plete pre-pack­aged ver­sions of learn­ing in order to see MOOCs as valid or suc­cess­ful seems lim­it­ing to me, when they have the poten­tial to offer so much more than just that con­ven­tion­al pack­age.

  • RaFo says:

    Actu­al­ly, I signed up for Duke’s Intro­duc­tion to Astron­o­my :D, but I quit it because I was expect­ing more videos, pho­tos of the space, but i did­n’t found them. I dont say that the metodol­o­gy was not good, maybe it was just me because I’m in oth­ers cours­es and I’m hav­ing good times there

  • H00 says:

    I love the fact that these cours­es offer so much qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion AND they’re free. But as a full-time work­ing adult, I found it exceed­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to watch hours upon hours of lec­ture videos. At the time I was enrolled in Cours­era cours­es, there was­n’t even an option to down­load videos to my iPhone so I could watch lec­tures dur­ing my com­mute. Read­ing the mate­r­i­al or an inter­ac­tive online inter­face such as the one you find on Code Acad­e­my would be a more effi­cient way to learn.

  • Erin says:

    I’ve audit­ed a few cours­es but nev­er actu­al­ly fin­ished the require­ments for any of them. I don’t see that as a prob­lem at all. I learn some inter­est­ing things and get the ben­e­fit I want out of them. My thoughts:

    - I tend to over­com­mit. There are lots of cours­es that sound inter­est­ing but once they start I don’t have the time to com­plete all the course require­ments. The 10 or 12 week time­line for a course works for uni­ver­si­ty but it does­n’t work for real life. It’s total­ly pos­si­ble that I and many oth­er peo­ple would be bet­ter able to com­plete the require­ments in, say, 20 weeks. I see no rea­son to hold peo­ple to such a lim­it­ed sched­ule, or to force every­one to keep the same sched­ule at the same time.

    - Lots of class­es have low/nonexistent entrance require­ments and are cre­at­ed for a broad audi­ence. In a few cours­es I have found that the lec­tures and course mate­ri­als were too easy and not engag­ing enough. In some cas­es I felt that the work­load and assign­ments required to pass the course were not high enough to be uni­ver­si­ty lev­el. That’s nice for mak­ing it acces­si­ble, but it does­n’t help me take the class seri­ous­ly.

    - I find that the dis­cus­sion forums aren’t very use­ful or engag­ing. They are not a very good sub­sti­tute for active in-class dis­cus­sion. And, because there are often no pre­req­ui­sites for enter­ing the course, it can be real­ly hard to find peo­ple to engage with at the lev­el that I’m at.

    - Lack of reward at the end. The cours­es are inter­est­ing and I often enjoy doing the read­ing and watch­ing the lec­tures, but the cours­es don’t count for any­thing. I’m not going to get any sort of rec­og­nized cred­it either at work or a uni­ver­si­ty so there is very lit­tle incen­tive to com­plete quizzes and assign­ments.

    That being said, I val­ue the fact that these learn­ing mate­ri­als have been made avail­able and I will con­tin­ue to audit them. I learn a lot of stuff but it’s not impor­tant to me to fin­ish all the require­ments to pass them.

  • William showalter says:

    I work 9/12 hours a day and only do this as a hob­by. I love the whole con­cept of moocs but like most peo­ple I want to do more than time allows I hope they will remain avail­able in the future.

  • Queen TRUthe says:

    My expe­ri­ence is as fol­lows:

    I found out about the free cours­es approx­i­mate­ly five years ago or so. Being that the world was expe­ri­enc­ing the Crit­i­cal North Amer­i­can Finan­cial Melt­down in the U.S. I jumped at the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take cours­es at uni­ver­si­ties where I would­n’t have dared to apply to as my insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing choice. And I enjoyed them all very much.

    I have tak­en all cours­es via

    The first few cours­es were cours­es at Yale, Har­vard, Stan­ford & Cal. Berke­ley. They were pre­sent­ed in lec­ture style shown via as self-paced mod­ules.

    I took these cours­es quite fine as an inde­pen­dent study. For some of my cours­es i enjoy this as an option, how­ev­er, it would have been nice to have the chance or the option to dis­cuss the mate­ri­als with oth­er indi­vid­u­als being that i also enjoy work­ing in groups and engag­ing in dia­logue with oth­ers. I com­plet­ed these cours­es with­out any cred­its or cer­tifi­cates offered.

    Over the years I have found that some class­es via offer a cer­tifi­cate after the com­ple­tion of the course work. I then began enrolling for these type of cours­es in addi­tion to the oth­ers. I fig­ured that I may as well receive some­thing tan­gi­ble in return for all the work com­plet­ed. I appre­ci­ate the recog­ni­tion as well as it offer­ing me an oppor­tu­ni­ty to stay focused on my edu­ca­tion­al pur­suits as well as my shift­ing & increas­ing career goals as I was then became more entre­pre­neur­ial mind­ed.

    As for the cours­es that I did­n’t ‘com­plete’ pri­or to the end date of the course itself. My expe­ri­ence was that I, for a few of the cours­es any­way, could­n’t fig­ure out how to prop­er­ly sub­mit my com­plet­ed assign­ments by the dead­line. Some used Moo­dle and some used Drop Box and some used oth­er tac­tics. How­ev­er, it was nev­er as sim­ple as email­ing the Pro­fes­sor or the T.A. In addi­tion, typ­i­cal­ly for these cours­es the sys­tem only allows for one assign­ment late/missed for the dura­tion of the course.

    Thus, being that I opt­ed for those cours­es in par­tic­u­lar, I then deemed it more imper­a­tive at the time not to con­tin­ue in the course, but instead to work on oth­er classes/projects, etc… for growth that would have some­thing to show for it in the end. I would then decide to com­plete the cours­es, lec­tures and work assign­ments dur­ing a lat­er time.

    Yes, per­haps changes can/should be made for the suc­cess of the programs/courses in the future, but I would­n’t dare call it any­thing close to a fail­ure or not worth it. Mon­e­tary gain should NOT be the first and pri­ma­ry con­cern for every­thing. There will always be enough to go around if not hoard­ed with self­ish gain. And this wealth of rich­ness [knowl­edge & infor­ma­tion termed as an edu­ca­tion] should def­i­nite­ly not be hoard­ed for self­ish gain.

    Hotep! Bless­ings & Peace..

  • Dom says:

    I’ve com­plet­ed sev­er­al MOOCs about 9–10, at least 1 from each of edX, Udac­i­ty and Cours­era. I think that these drop out rates are being over empha­sized. IMO they real­ly should not be all that sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing that you don’t real­ly get any­thing out of it except knowl­edge for your­self. I think a lot of peo­ple go into a course think­ing “Yay I’m gonna learn about all these great things for free from the com­fort of my home!” They then real­ize that the course actu­al­ly requires hard work and time com­mit­ment and then drop off.

    As men­tioned too the qual­i­ty from one class to anoth­er can great­ly dif­fer, if for exam­ple there’s a class where the pro­fes­sor is just read­ing off the pow­er­point slide, no mat­ter how bril­liant this per­son may be, I sim­ply can­not pay atten­tion, it’s too bor­ing! Also qual­i­ty of assign­ments and such dif­fer great­ly as well.

    Anoth­er prob­lem is that there’s no struc­ture to MOOCs at the moment. What I mean by this is that there’s no pro­gres­sion like you would have in a stan­dard degree. I think what needs to hap­pen is we need to make mini degrees so to speak that include X num­ber of cours­es per­tain­ing to Y and then that shows your pro­fi­cient in Y. It would also increase moti­va­tion and give more pur­pose to the cours­es you’re tak­ing.

    Anoth­er issue I see although slight­ly less obvi­ous is for exam­ple in a cod­ing class, it would be nice to be able to put your assign­ments up in github for prospec­tive employ­ers to see, but because of the hon­our code and such this is not pos­si­ble.

    Last­ly and this will only con­tin­ue to improve but more inter­ac­tive exer­cis­es are key, make the cours­es as inter­ac­tive as pos­si­ble. I think edX and Udac­i­ty in gen­er­al do a bet­ter job than Cours­era about this, but some­thing that I get real­ly con­fused about on edX is that they for the most part do stan­dard lec­tures still which seems pret­ty back­wards. I learn sig­nif­i­cant­ly more from the khan style than nor­mal lec­tures. It does­n’t mat­ter if the lec­tures are split up into chunks, the way your pre­sent­ing the con­tent is still bor­ing at the core.

  • Erin says:

    I keep read­ing arti­cles lament­ing about the high drop out rate from MOOCs, but all of them seem to use the wrong cri­te­ria for what con­sti­tutes as a drop out in MOOCs.

    Many peo­ple sign up for such cours­es in order to “audit” — to fol­low some of the mate­r­i­al but not all, dip­ping in & out as they please. Course instruc­tors seem aware of this, even mak­ing ref­er­ence to whether peo­ple are “cer­tifi­cate seek­ers” or not. I sus­pect that if there was an option to check how many of these “drop outs” sim­ply had a dif­fer­ent suc­cess cri­te­ria to what peo­ple are used to, peo­ple would be rather sur­prised. Maybe the option to check a box from the start say­ing they are not seek­ing the cer­tifi­cate would make it pos­si­ble to ascer­tain the true “drop out” rate.

  • Betty Dahlstedt says:

    To my way of think­ing the cours­es offered were for the pur­pose of learn­ing!
    We want to learn…not col­lect cer­tifi­cates. The cours­es I dropped were ones where the lec­tur­ers were too sil­ly, or the mate­r­i­al was too advanced. The His­to­ry since 1760 is a fan­tas­tic course. Cer­tifi­cates do not equal Learn­ing. Only the stu­dent can decide if they learned any­thing from the course.

  • Tibetan Mom says:

    I recent­ly enrolled in a com­po­si­tion mooc at Duke and a mooc on the ancient hero at Har­vard. I do find the set-up a lit­tle less than user-friend­ly. I have to look in one place to fig­ure out what to do that week, and then I have to find the mate­ri­als in dif­fer­ent loca­tions. I’ve tak­en many small­er online cours­es, and usu­al­ly, the sched­ule and mate­ri­als were coor­di­nat­ed a lit­tle more care­ful­ly. “Don’t make me think.” I’ve taught online cours­es, too, and I do try to set up my cours­es in a way that stu­dents can nav­i­gate eas­i­ly. I’m also a lit­tle over­whelmed by the num­bers of fel­low stu­dents and the idea that I might not get atten­tion from my instruc­tor. Final­ly, there is no grade, so I’m less moti­vat­ed.

  • Sherm Pridham says:

    I am tak­ing two MOOCS with Cours­era. His­to­ry of the World Since 1760 and Irra­tional Behav­ior. Com­ple­tion of the course is not of any con­cern to me. I am old; I am inter­est­ed in no holds barred learn­ing; and I have three degrees (if I rearrange the ini­tials of my degrees they spell out SLAM BAM, and that about sums up my aca­d­e­m­ic career). I feel that our sys­tem of using grades and diplo­mas to deter­mine how well informed, reflec­tive, cre­ative, or wicked smart we are is flawed. I do not see why mon­e­tiz­ing these MOOCS should be a prob­lem. The pres­ti­gious col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties are very def­i­nite­ly ready to put a price tag on the use of their logos. They have already made deals with tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies, for­eign gov­ern­ments, sports net­works, and oth­ers that are of dubi­ous edu­ca­tion­al val­ue, but return a buck to the aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tion. If, as the arti­cle above con­tends, a MOOC can cost as much as $50,000 to pro­duce, and you have 50,000 stu­dents enroll, just charge ten bucks a head to sign up for the course, and you have $50,000 back. Once the course has been pro­duced it would be of very neg­li­gi­ble cost to re show it, even with some slight changes. Tell stu­dents that once they start a course they can opt to try to “qual­i­fy” for “real col­lege cred­it.” If they want to get on the “for cred­it” track, it will cost $49.99 for one course, and if they com­plete the course with a grade of B or bet­ter they “qual­i­fy” to take the next four cours­es for $45.00 per course. Com­put­ers that can deter­mine whether or not I am who I say I am, by the way I type a sen­tence, could be pro­grammed to sort through mul­ti­ple choice, or even essays, to check for key points, sen­tence struc­ture, and con­tra­dic­tions. The com­put­er could spit out the very good and the very bad sub­mis­sions for review by real live aca­d­e­mics, look­ing to make a cou­ple of extra bucks as graders. And think of the sales of para­pher­na­lia! Who would­n’t pur­chase a T shirt with the offi­cial Stan­ford logo embla­zoned with “I MOOCed Stan­ford”? Once the mon­e­tiz­ing is decid­ed, the col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties could make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion toward rais­ing the lev­el of intel­lec­tu­al dis­course by pro­vid­ing the cours­es absolute­ly free to those stu­dents who care about learn­ing stuff; engag­ing in debate that is decid­ed by how well you make your case instead of how long your Latin school mot­to is; and thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ing (per­haps even for a life­time) the parts of a course they feel chal­lenged by rather than “com­plet­ing” a course. The impor­tant ques­tion is, “Do we want to see the MOOC move­ment lead to inno­va­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty in edu­ca­tion or do we want to find a new way to raise cash through sell­ing more cre­den­tials”?

  • I joined Design­ing and Imple­ment­ing an Online Course through the Cours­era site. From day one I had no idea what I was sup­posed to do. There were instruc­tions all over the place. Groups to join with phan­tom mem­bers that nev­er com­ment­ed or inter­act­ed, and a syl­labus that was being revised as the course went through it’s first week. I fig­ured it would­n’t be smart to learn how to design an online course from a teacher that designed such a con­fus­ing course.

  • Greg vP says:

    MOOCs are the wrong answer to the prob­lem of increas­ing the avail­abil­i­ty of edu­ca­tion.

    Peo­ple learn best from a com­bi­na­tion of indi­vid­ual tuition and small-group inter­ac­tion. The quick­er and more per­son­alised the two-way flow of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the bet­ter. MOOCs get this exact­ly wrong.

    If you want to com­put­erise high­er edu­ca­tion, the way ahead is to auto­mate indi­vid­ual tuition. Eye track­ing cam­eras and the machine learn­ing tech­nol­o­gy behind IBM’s Wat­son are two of the build­ing blocks need­ed for this. The required invest­ment is still huge, but at least it’s start­ing to seem pos­si­ble rather than sci­ence fic­tion­al.

  • Juliet Boys says:

    I have com­plet­ed two cours­es, and signed up for a Biol­o­gy course, but found I did­n’t have enough back­ground knowl­edge to fol­low the course prop­er­ly, or enough free time to to do the research to keep up. If I had I would have learn’t so much and would have expand­ed my basic knowl­edge. I am enrolled in oth­er cours­es and cur­rent­ly doing a Phi­los­o­phy course. I am deter­mind to fin­ish regard­less of the quiz pio­nts results. Sim­ply becuase its so inter­est­ing and thought pro­vok­ing. These cours­es are invalu­able to me.

  • Linda says:

    I signed up for 2 Mooc cours­es at Stan­ford last year and only fin­ished one. I did­n’t fin­ish the 2nd course because the sub­ject mat­ter was too advanced for me and it would take too much time to drill down and learn enought to do the home­work, so I opt­ed to audit the course instead.

  • LWP says:

    Books and online mate­r­i­al work bet­ter for me than lec­tures. I like that Yale pro­vides lec­ture tran­scripts. A lec­ture that talks over slides, charts, videos, what­ev­er, is annoy­ing; html mix­ing tran­scripts with such items would be a great improve­ment.

    I haven’t enrolled, just viewed entire lec­ture series here and there, so I don’t know what the forum inter­ac­tion would be like. How­ev­er, I can imag­ine set­ting up some­thing like Goodreads for dis­cus­sion. Indi­vid­ual mod­ules and/or lec­tures would be items that users could dis­cuss — pub­licly, not hid­den in pri­vate forums.

    In fact, I can imag­ine buy­ing for a nom­i­nal price, let’s say, an intro­duc­to­ry mod­ule based on com­ments I might have read by oth­ers who’ve tak­en the course. Then I might buy fur­ther indi­vid­ual mod­ules, or the whole course.

    I prob­a­bly would­n’t pay for a test; let the pro­fes­sors offer them for free to get feed­back on how good their mate­r­i­al is. But also fix it so that if I pass enough tests and have paid for the course, I get offi­cial Brown­ie points.

  • Catherine says:

    I’ve com­plet­ed most of them but dropped three.
    1. The course just was­n’t what I expect­ed or want­ed.
    2. My inter­net con­nec­tion was too slow and shaky at that time to watch the videos prop­er­ly.
    3. It required more free time for study than I had avail­able.

  • Ellie says:

    Some­times I fol­low a course for gen­er­al inter­est so although I watch all the videos and do all the read­ings, I just don’t both­er with the final exam because I’m not look­ing for a cer­tifi­cate or recog­ni­tion or any­thing.

  • Brooke says:

    I left one because the course was the­o­ret­i­cal­ly free but the read­ings we were expect­ed to do were all in an expen­sive book writ­ten by the pro­fes­sor.

  • Kati Saarinen says:

    Among the many pos­si­ble rea­sons for peo­ple not com­plet­ing MOOC’s is the cul­tur­al fetish we have made of “experts”. It was much more com­mon at one time for the com­mon man or woman to engage in learn­ing and con­tin­ue stud­ies. An atti­tude of con­de­scen­sion from profs or teach­ers is quite dis­cour­ag­ing. God bless the ama­teur who pur­sues his or her inter­ests despite every­thing.

  • Rudolf Schmidt says:

    If Hen­ry Ford had hitched hors­es to his auto­mo­biles it would have been no less absurd than the dozen or so MOOCs I’ve seen. All these aca­d­e­mics have done is tak­en the obso­lete and inef­fi­cient lec­ture for­mat that has­n’t changed in a mil­len­ni­um and put it on the inter­net. Online can and must be so much more inter­ac­tive than tra­di­tion­al class­room learn­ing every could be. But that would require not only a sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment of time and mon­ey, but a par­a­digm shift.

  • Karen says:

    My daugh­ter has severe social anx­i­ety but is bril­liant. She began MOOCs and is com­plet­ing them. She drops the ones that are less sci­en­tif­ic (micro­eco­nom­ics was espe­cial­ly annoy­ing to her) but she loves the inter­ac­tion with peo­ple from oth­er coun­tries and she loves the lec­tures.
    I like the fact that she can sam­ple class­es and inter­ests and see what she wants to do and how to start. Also, what she can real­is­ti­cal­ly do.
    She is ambi­tious and appre­cia­tive of this oppor­tu­ni­ty. I know that I could nev­er pay for her to go to brick and mor­tar and I would nev­er allow her to go into some huge debt as she knocked around try­ing to fig­ure out where her strengths lie.
    I guess you get out what you put in. The only non-sci­en­tif­ic class she took was post-mod­ernism and she loved read­ing Dar­win and Baude­laire’s ‘Paris Spleen’.
    It’s a mer­i­to­crat­ic sys­tem.
    I know that I signed up for sev­er­al class­es and did­n’t com­plete any. I had surgery and end­ed up tak­ing care of my moth­er. So I’m the kind of per­son who bring their num­bers down.
    I think they are an amaz­ing resource and even if she does­n’t fin­ish with some­thing that she believes she’s skilled enough to find work with (she is inter­est­ed in data sys­tems), then at least we know where her inter­ests are focused if she does final­ly go to school. I would be more sup­port­ive if she had a sol­id back­ground with some cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and cred­its from dif­fi­cult sub­jects and had a plan. Then the stu­dent loan might be worth it. It’s too expen­sive to ‘find your­self’ at school any­more.

  • Since the begin­ning of the year I have start­ed five MOOCs and dropped two of these; I’ve fin­ished two more and am half-way through the last. The two I dropped were extreme­ly inter­est­ing and I would like to try them again, but they began just before I had house guests vis­it­ing for two weeks, which made it near­ly impos­si­ble to keep up with assign­ments for that peri­od. Since there was no grace peri­od on dead­lines, I had to drop.

    Four of the five class­es were of very high qual­i­ty; the fifth was inter­est­ing but too light-weight for my taste — so I’d bet it had a high­er com­ple­tion rate.

  • Julia says:

    I’m a retired Eng­lish teacher and am near the end of a lit­er­a­ture class with Cours­era. I chose to stop doing the peer response sec­tion of the class due to some stu­dents being treat­ed rude­ly in the process; in fact, the entire peer response sec­tion of the class is done in a way I would NEVER have asked of stu­dents in a class­room. No pro­vi­sion is made for pla­gia­rism, and there is no involve­ment of the pro­fes­sor or TA’s in mon­i­tor­ing the TORRENT of com­plaints about peer reviews.

    I was not pre­pared to see such mean behav­ior in a sup­pos­ed­ly “col­lege” set­ting, but oth­er in the class let me know that “trolling” is expect­ed on the inter­net. That’s real­ly a shame, because I tru­ly enjoyed the forums, with most of us shar­ing ideas and infor­ma­tion.

    As a retiree, a cer­tifi­cate isn’t a goal for me–and I do think oth­ers treat the MOOC as a giant smor­gas­bord, where stu­dents can sam­ple what they like and leave when they wish. There’s noth­ing wrong with offer­ing this type of enrich­ment, but the class was hard­ly at a “col­lege” lev­el. As one stu­dent said, it felt more like a book club, since the pro­fes­sor’s involve­ment was almost non-exis­tent except for the videos.

    The MOOC com­mu­ni­ty needs to decide what it wish­es to be. Right now, there are no con­se­quences for choos­ing to drop a course and no incen­tives for con­tin­u­ing. I’ve enjoyed some of those with whom I’ve inter­act­ed in the forums–but not enough to want to do this again.

  • William says:

    Hey guys!!!

    I am actu­al­ly cur­rent­ly in the process of build­ing an edu­ca­tion­al plat­form that is for stu­dents by stu­dents, and focus­es on stu­dents tak­ing con­trol of their learn­ing and help­ing eachother using many of the automa­tive and social tech­nolo­gies we have today. It is great to read all of your com­ments so I know what to include in my design and fea­tures. Basi­cal­ly you will be able to upload your cours­es, whether MOOC’S or actu­al cours­es from uni­ver­si­ties (for cred­it) and use the appli­ca­tions design and fea­tures to have a stream­lined learn­ing expe­ri­ence like no oth­er that active­ly engages the stu­dents in the infor­ma­tion and eachother. My aim is to cre­ate an atmos­phere that fos­ters a fun social edu­ca­tion­al envi­ron­ment between eachother that deals with you con­trol­ling the show and help­ing eachother to be the best and most effi­cient we can be. I want to active­ly engage class­es and cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that is super friend­ly so that every­one is work­ing togeth­er and hav­ing fun while learn­ing, that is very cru­cial. I would love to get your guys feed­back and what should be includ­ed on there for all of you to use!!! After­all, I am doing this for you guys!!! Thanks!!!

  • Deepti Machavolu says:

    Hi, I am cur­rent­ly doing two cours­es from Cours­era, one relat­ing to lit­er­a­ture, and anoth­er to writ­ing. I have com­plet­ed all the required assign­ments, so I would be one of those who com­plet­ed the course.I have un-enrolled from anoth­er three before they start­ed, because I am one of those who feels that if I do a course, it has to be done ‘ful­ly’; I realised that I can do only so much at one time. A cer­tifi­cate would real­ly not be of great use to me, I do these cours­es sim­ply to increase my knowl­d­edge. I start­ed a fifth course on com­pu­ta­tion­al pho­tog­ra­phy and unen­rolled after a week because I felt that it was­n’t work­ing for me.

    My school going son signed up for a course on gam­i­fi­ca­tion think­ing that it would be some­thing relat­ed to com­put­er games. He was dis­ap­point­ed to know it was about apply­ing game the­o­ry to busi­ness sit­u­a­tions. But he decid­ed to go on a lit­tle, and found it amaz­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing. This is what I love about MOOCs — they help a per­son iden­ti­fy where their inter­est lie. I would nev­er have known of my son’s inter­est in this type of sub­ject if it were not for a free online course that he can do in his free time at home.

  • Chad says:

    I’m the same as some oth­er peo­ple on here: they’re free, so why not sam­ple the first few lec­tures of MANY cours­es and see which ones click?

  • martin corona says:

    I have not doubt MOOCS are here to stay, I have fin­ish 3 of them droped 2 because the day only has 24 hrs. When cor­po­ra­tion start giv­en recog­ni­tion to mooc certificates…much more peo­ple will fin­ish the cours­es. I am sure if tra­di­tion­al edu­ca­tion were not giv­en diplo­mas …the drop rate would be much big­ger than it is.

  • Ed says:

    I think that this sta­tis­tics is high­ly mis­lead­ing. I pick two cours­es at a time that I want to com­plete and don’t have any prob­lems in com­plet­ing them.
    But I also enrol in cou­ple of oth­ers just for fun, so I can see what they’re about, with­out any inten­tion of com­plet­ing them. I also enrol in some cours­es only in the end so I can down­load all the mate­ri­als for self learn­ing. All of that goes in sta­tis­tics of “not com­plet­ing” the course.
    In last 6 months I got 6 cer­tifi­cates all six that I want­ed to com­plete and I enrolled in at least 20 more, just for the lec­tures or to see what the course was about.

    The aver­age qual­i­ty of cours­es, at least for tech­ni­cal cours­es, is real­ly high, lec­tures are waaay bet­ter than on my uni­ver­si­ty.
    I would also add that to learn some­thing it’s not nec­es­sary to com­plete the course, for exam­ple I watched machine learn­ing course from Stan­ford, about 3/4 of all the lec­tures, and learned a lot, it starts again in 10 days and this time I intend to do the assign­ments and get a cer­tifi­cate as well.

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there are lot of peo­ple who just don’t want to do any­thing, who are just not inter­est­ed enough to make an effort. There are also lot of peo­ple enrolling into cours­es ignor­ing the pre­req­ui­sites, you just can’t do quan­tum physics with­out being real­ly good at lin­ear alge­bra and cal­cu­lus.

    If I have any com­plaints it’s the lack of basic cours­es, for exam­ple Lin­ear Alge­bra is pre­req­ui­site for many tech­ni­cal cours­es and yet there is no Lin­ear Alge­bra course on Cours­era or EdX.

    Judg­ing from my friends, there are just peo­ple who are more excit­ed about this way of learn­ing, and those who want to try, but in the end just isn’t their pri­or­i­ty. It’s impor­tant that every­one is giv­en a chance to try, I’m afraid that this neg­a­tive hype based on mis­un­der­stand­ing of sta­tis­tics and human nature, could end a poten­tial­ly most use­ful edu­ca­tion­al tool in human his­to­ry.

  • Bul says:

    I am on track to com­plete 7 cours­es and I have dropped out of 2. I the prob­lem for my drop­ping out was sim­ply because of over sub­scrip­tion (I enroll in 10 cours­es and dis­cov­er that they are all intense and then I have to drop a few.

    One crit­i­cism i’d like to answer is from those who are say­ing the mate­r­i­al isn’t tough enough. I don’t know how tougher they want it to be or how update the cours­es should be but plat­forms such as cours­era are pret­ty bal­anced.

    The only thing I think they need to put in mind is that the major­i­ty of their stu­dents are adults liv­ing busy lifestyles. If they real­ly want to improve on the grad­u­ate rates, they sim­ply have to treat this as con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion. Increase due dates for assign­ments for lets say 2 weeks instead of one and upload lec­tur­ers on a biweek­ly basis.(that also accom­mo­dates late sub­scribers) That way, dropout rates due to fail­ure to sub­mit assign­ments on time can be reduced.

    I know I had an issue with one course I real­ly like (sig­na­ture track) but I was unable to sub­mit an assignment…on con­tact­ing the instruc­tor, he said his course is struc­tured in such a way that the low­est 2 assign­ment grades are dropped so as to give late sub­scribers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to catch up. (and you thought they aren’t inno­v­a­tive)

  • MIa Valdes says:

    I’ve signed up for 4 cours­es on Cours­era. I com­plet­ed one and received a certificate–it was very chal­leng­ing and I devot­ed much more time and effort than I had planned. It was auto-grad­ed.
    I dropped one because it was bor­ing and of low aca­d­e­m­ic qual­i­ty even though it was out of my area and I thought it would be too hard.
    I’m tak­ing two cours­es at the moment. Both require fre­quent essays that are peer reviewed. That means that for every essay I write (very time con­sum­ing) I must cor­rect 3 or 4 (a cou­ple of hours more work to do a decent job).
    I real­ized I could­n’t devote the time so I quit doing assign­ments in one course but have con­tin­ued to watch all the lec­tures and do the read­ings.
    In the oth­er where I’m writ­ing essays I have payed $40 for Sig­na­ture Track (authen­ti­cates my iden­ti­ty when I turn in assign­ments) to put pres­sure on myself. It works. As much as I dread stay­ing up till all hours strug­gling to con­vert my ideas into words and then grad­ing oth­er stu­dents’ work, that $40 is an enforcer.
    I am a teacher in the same field as the course that I payed for Sig­na­ture Track and, although there’s no reward for me tak­ing the course, who knows if it might be of val­ue in the future? I’ll always have proof I passed.
    I’ve found the forums use­ful and enter­tain­ing. The diver­si­ty of the stu­dent body is amaz­ing. There’s a lot of grat­i­tude from stu­dents around the world for this oppor­tu­ni­ty. It’s inspir­ing. I have got­ten help with prob­lems quick­ly from oth­er stu­dents. Yes, there are the occa­sion­al snarky or pompous ones but many more stu­dents are gen­er­ous and sup­port­ive. I’ve seen the course staff inter­venes some­times when stu­dents have spe­cif­ic prob­lems or queries.
    This for­mat bet­ter for my learn­ing style that the “real” class­room. I like being able to pause lec­tures, watch them over, down­load tran­scripts. I like the short lec­tures with embed­ded quiz ques­tions that keep me alert. I have more inter­ac­tion with class­mates about the course­work than I did in col­lege.
    It may not be per­fect but it comes close. It’s free and most of the cours­es are of high qual­i­ty. I’m tak­ing as many as I can han­dle because it sure­ly won’t last in this form.

  • Rozoua says:

    Drop­ping out of MOOCs hap­pens when:

    1)despite its grand entrance (course title / course info / pre­lim­i­nary video) it turns out bor­ing as hell.
    2) despite telling peo­ple “no pri­or knowl­edge required” you need pri­or knowl­edge in a field you don’t actu­al­ly excel (but were inter­est­ed in any­way) — Course then gets dif­fi­cult / over­whelm­ing
    3) course over­load (demand­ing over 4 ‑6 hours week­ly qual­i­fies for a stu­dent not a work­ing adult)
    4) forum rage (rare) / peer assess­ment rage (com­mon) — unknown peo­ple grade your paper offer­ing feed­back like “you suck”. They hide behind a shroud of anonymi­ty and you are left clue­less.
    5) When you are brows­ing Mooc cours­es you click on a lot of them. Just because. Then again you decide to leave. Again just because.

    I have already con­clud­ed 5, doing 5 more and I am guess­ing they are here to stay, despite crit­i­cism. The hard­est part is the begin­ning.

  • Scott says:

    I was one of the “Intro to Astron­o­my” dropouts. The course mate­r­i­al was great, and I watched all the videos, but the quizzes were very, very poor­ly done. They were only par­tial­ly relat­ed to the mate­r­i­al cov­ered in the videos, and were set up with ques­tions that was more appro­pri­ate for a full grad­ed, show your work, type of quiz.

  • James says:

    I’d agree they need to con­sid­er the major­i­ty of stu­dents are adults with busy lifestyles, to improve the grad­u­ate rates, they have to con­sid­er it as con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion by for exam­ple, increas­ing due dates for assign­ments and upload lec­tur­ers on a biweek­ly basis. Hence the dropout rates due to fail­ure to sub­mit assign­ments on time can be reduced.

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