Researchers from Cornell Tech and Stanford University examined how students really use online courses and found that traditional teaching methods don’t always work online. More than 300,000 students who participated in massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by Stanford through Coursera were evaluated for the study.
The immediate takeaways came as no surprise: Gaming helps increase participation and people have different learning styles. Digging deeper, researchers identified different ways students engaged with the online course.
“All-rounders” do all the work, attempt to pass, and make up about 10% of the active students in the class. “Viewers,” who watch the material but do little of the homework, and “solvers,” who only take the tests, make up nearly 40% of the students enrolled. “Collectors” only download the course material and “bystanders” sign up for the class, but neither group is heard from again.
“Our whole idea of what these courses are is narrower than the experiences people have of them,” Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of the Cornell Tech campus, told BetaBeat. “I think we don’t understand the value and motivation for a large number of users.”
Huttenlocher suggested that schools need to look at MOOCs differently. He said students can no longer be termed a dropout just because they didn’t do the assignments. The real effectiveness of MOOCs won’t be understood until they can serve the different styles of learning.