A recent University of Pennsylvania study of a million users of massive open online courses (MOOCs) found that, on average, only about 50 percent of those who registered for a course ever viewed a lecture, and only about 4 percent completed the courses. Although MOOCs were started with the goal of providing courses for students in poor countries with little access to higher education, the study found that about 80 percent of those taking MOOCs had already earned a degree of some kind. In response to some of the initial shortcomings of several MOOC programs, their designers are making changes to broaden their appeal. For example, edX is producing videos to use in some high school Advanced Placement classes, and Coursera is experimenting with using its courses, along with a facilitator, in small discussion classes at some U.S. consulates. In addition, Udacity is revamping its software so future students could have more time to work through the courses. “We are seeing significant improvement in learning outcomes and student engagement,” says Udacity founder and Stanford University professor Sebastian Thurn. Meanwhile, some MOOC pioneers are developing a connectivist MOOC model, which is more about the connections and communications among students than about the content delivered by a professor.
- After Setbacks, Online Courses Are Rethought (nytimes.com)
- Coursera releases iPhone app for MOOCs (viraltechnology.wordpress.com)