MOOCs Keep Getting Bigger. But Do They Work?

Career College Central summary:

  • Massive open online courses have been hailed by politicians and journalists as the affordable future of higher education. Administrators from dozens of top universities and colleges are scrambling to get on the MOOC train. But amid all this, no one really knows yet how much people learn in a MOOC. What research does exist shows that the success rate of online education, in general, is poor. And one high-profile experiment with MOOC-style teaching in particular has ended in disappointment.
  •  Enrollment in online college courses of all kinds increased by 29 percent to more than 6.7 million between 2010 and last year, the latest period for which the fast-changing figures are available, according to the Babson Survey Research Group. And this is happening at a time when the number of students in conventional universities and colleges has started to decline.
  • A survey of students by the market-research company Qualtrics and the education technology provider Instructure seems to confirm this. Seventy-five percent said the main reason they signed up for a MOOC was that it didn’t cost them anything, while 29 percent of those who dropped out said they got too busy to continue, and 20 percent said they lost interest.
  • Two-thirds of those students said they would be more likely to complete a MOOC if they could get college credit or a certificate of completion for it, something that is still not widely available. Until it is, said Jaggars, it will be hard to measure the effectiveness of MOOCs—a Catch-22, since without knowing their effectiveness, it’s unlikely colleges will give academic credit for them.

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