Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released data last month on the first 16 massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by their edX partnership. It turns out that while millions may register, far fewer actually complete the class and most people taking MOOCs already have a college degree.
While that comes as no surprise, the report may provide developers with valuable information for the future.
“There was a lot we didn’t know, especially about who took different types of MOOCs and how much of the course content they viewed,” wrote Jonah Newman and Soo Oh in The Chronicle of Higher Education. “This information may be valuable to those looking to design and lead successful MOOCs.”
For instance, while 57% of students on campus are female, 76% of students taking MOOCs are male. The median age of the participants is 24, with a third coming from North America. More than 20% of the students come from South Asia and students from that part of the world. They are most likely taking engineering and computer science courses, while Africans enroll in social science courses at nearly twice the rate of any other offering.
Students with a doctorate viewed the most course materials and students who took more than one MOOC were the most engaged in the course material, unless they took more than five classes, which is when engagement fell off.
Perhaps the most troubling trend is that nearly half of all registered students never look at any content associated with the class.