Critics of massive open online courses (MOOCs) point to the number of individuals who fail to successfully complete the courses. Karen Symms Gallagher, dean of the University of the Southern California Rossier School of Education, took a MOOC presented by the University of Edinburgh, dropped out after losing interest, and wrote about her experience in an essay for Inside Higher Education.
On the heels of the essay, eCampus News ran a report on a new MOOC study from Edinburgh that showed the majority of students who take its six Coursera classes do so simply to learn, with little interest in earning the completion certificate at the end.
MOOCs@Edinburgh 2013 found that 95% of the responding students enrolled to “learn new things” and just 33% took the course for the certificate. The study also found that 83% said they completed the final assessment, while 77% said the course either met or exceeded their expectations. In addition, 70% of respondents said they had already completed a degree program, and 40% had earned a postgraduate degree.
“It is probably reasonable to view these MOOC learners as more akin to lifelong learning students in traditional universities than to students on degree programs, which is a common comparison being made,” the report said.