The problem with massive open online courses (MOOCs) has nothing to do with quality of content or access, according to a Northwestern professor. Students have no compelling reason to finish.
Gad Allon conducted a study of students participating in a Coursera MOOC he was teaching, sending out email reminders to a group of 175 students who had already responded to a survey. The number of visits to the class discussion board by students who got the reminder increased by 28%, while the number of posts grew by nearly 97% when compared to the control group of 160 students who didn’t get the email.
On average, students who received email reminders visited the discussion board four more times than the students in the control group and were 13% more likely to complete the quiz the next week.
In a separate experiment, Allon invited nearly 1,000 students to take part in an online discussion about the material used in the course. Only 6% accepted the invitation, but those students were 10% more likely to complete the weekly quizzes and their scores on the tests increased by 2% to 10%.
“One of the biggest issues in education is not the lack of resources, it is actually [a lack of] commitment and accountability,” Allon said in an article for Chicago Inno. “What is really missing, and what the nudge is trying to do, though it is really clearly not enough, is to create some commitment from the students.”