A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported students who complete massive open online courses (MOOCs) are learning something, regardless of how prepared they are coming into the course. Researchers found that all students who took an MIT physics course offered on the edX platform in the summer of 2013 showed signs of learning the subject, as long as they spent time doing the work.
“There was no evidence that cohorts with low initial ability learned less than the other cohorts,” the researchers wrote in the paper, which was published by The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.
Researchers also found that students taking the MOOC learned at a similar rate to MIT students taking the on-campus version of the class. Less-prepared students did earn significantly lower scores than their better-prepared counterparts, but their learning progress was the same, according to David E. Pritchard, a researcher on the study.
“If they stuck it out, they learned,” Pritchard told The Chronicle of Higher Education.