The Big Problem for MOOCs

POSTED IN: Ryan's Dream to Learn Blog

The Big Problem for MOOCs 

I came across the links below - a nice succinct piece on the completion rates.  Also some insightful comments. 

I knew the completion rates were not great, but I was surprised at how low the rates were in this study.

Generally, the course quality is good - as the comment threads attest.  The poor completion rates are due in large part to (a) structural issues with how MOOCs are set up (trying to test/review a tsunami of people,using a tsunami of reviewers is problematic) and (b) the ease with which people can sample (Low  Barriers to entry) and no consequences to dropping out.

Some of the comments on the article explaining low rate included:

  • Time. Just not enough hours in the day. 
  • Low barriers to entry - standard way people engage.  Signing up to many MOOCs and dropping several is standard method; sample many, complete few.  
  • Quizzes were very poorly done
  • Boring presentation.  "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. "
  • Peer assessment complaints
    • "peer assessment rage - unknown people grade your paper offering feedback like "you suck". They hide behind a shroud of anonymity and you are left clueless"
    • " TORRENT of complaints about peer reviews."


One of the comments struck me as being spot on, in terms of showing how Dream to Learn can perform well ​​ 

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

Some more great comments here:  http://www.openculture.com/2013/04/the_big_problem_for_moocs_visualized.html

"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%"


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About the Author

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson

Hi! I like to play with data, analytics and hack around with robots and gadgets in my garage. Lately I've been learning about machine learning.

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Created: September 12, 2013

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