Low completion rates remain an issue for massive open online courses (MOOCs). However, that’s not the only measure of success, according to leaders of the MOOC initiative at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.
Elke M. Leeds, associate vice president of technology-enhanced learning, and Jim Cope, executive director of distance learning, reported in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration that they found success in the MOOC initiative at KSU by looking at return on financial investment, branding, and student access.
“The new proposition shifts measures of success beyond just course completion to include measures that benefit students, faculty, and the institution,” they wrote in “MOOCs: Branding, Enrollment, and MultipleMeasures of Success.” “Students benefited through access to open educational resources, the acquisition of professional learning units at no cost, and the potential of college credit at a greatly reduced cost. Academic units benefited through a mechanism to attract students and future revenue, while the university benefited through digital impressions, branding, institutionally leveraged scalable learning environments, streamlined credit evaluations processes, and expanded digital education.”
Leeds and Cope determined that if four students enrolled in the institution’s two-year associated graduate endorsement program after taking a MOOC, their tuition would cover the production, design, and delivery costs of the MOOC. The first MOOC did much better than that, with 100 professional learning units awarded and 12 students enrolled in the endorsement program.
To evaluate the branding effect of the MOOC initiative at KSU, Leed and Cope documented more than 25,000 Twitter hashtag tweets and retweets about the program. They determined that 75% of the learners had either never heard of Kennesaw State or were largely unfamiliar with it, but all were engaged with learning materials produced by the university.
Leeds and Cope also reported that the program’s video lectures had more than 80,000 viewers, and nearly 4,000 unique viewers over a 10-month period in 2014. After just six weeks of offering MOOCs in 2015, they recorded more than 25,000 unique viewers to lectures, 28,000 streaming views, and more than 6,000 downloads of course materials.
“The traditional measures of success based on participation, retention, and completion only tell one side of the MOOC success story,” the authors wrote. “They can drive recruitment, offer cost reduction, and, in essence, become an educational product with reach far beyond that typically available to the university.”