Measuring The MOOC Dropout Rate

Researchers are trying to understand why the vast majority of students fail to finish free online classes and who is signing up for the classes to begin with.

One widely quoted dropout figure for students in massive open online courses is 90 percent. The number would be staggeringly high for a traditional class and has been used to cast doubt on the promise of MOOCs.

The number is simple to come up with: take the number of users who register for a course and compare it to the number still participating at the end. But is it fair?

Some researchers say MOOC dropout figures being bandied about do little to describe why hundreds of thousands of people across the world are signing up for MOOCs in the first place. All but a few of the courses offered by MOOC providers are free and don’t earn students any college credit.

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