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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

MOOC Defectors Just Busy People, After All

People throughout the education world have been scratching their heads over the high dropout rate in many massive open online courses (MOOCs). Why on earth would so many enrollees abandon their courses?

It seems the reason is pretty simple: Students had other things to do.

The Canvas Network, a cloud-based MOOC platform for institutions using the Canvas learning management system, surveyed 1,834 MOOC registrants in May and June 2013 to find out what prompted them to sign up and why dropouts left, according to an Information Week report.

Of those who didn’t finish, 20% said they “lost interest” in the course topic, while 68% admitted they just “got too busy” to complete the course.

The survey did find that course-takers who took part in the online discussions were more likely to stick with the course until the end. However, only 60% of MOOC enrollees said they expected to participate in discussions when they registered; the rest apparently had no intention of joining in.

The explanation may be that many of the students were merely curious about MOOCs. Some 44% said they took the course, at least in part, just to see what it was like and 72% of respondents said they work in the education field.

Most, however, decided to sign up for that particular course because they were interested in the subject matter and it didn’t cost anything. Course credit, or lack thereof, wasn’t really an issue for this group, as 67% already had at least a bachelor’s degree.

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