My MOOC Progress

October 15, 2014 | 2 Comments

A recent article, The Professors Who Make the MOOCs by Steve Kolowich highlights some key statistics from a survey taken by MOOC professors. One in particular that stood out was 79% of professors (who have taught a MOOC) believe that “MOOCs are worth the hype.”

One of my missions this year is to complete a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). I am determined to experience a MOOC first hand to see why such a low percentage of students complete the courses. Why are thousands of people taking the initiative to sign-up for a MOOC, but very few end up completing it?

Unfortunately, I am not off to a good start. Over two weeks ago I signed up for a HarvardX MOOC, and still haven’t logged in. Why? I am taking four graduate courses and complete all (or most) of my work and reading in time for class, but for some reason, I do not treat an open online course the same as I do my regular graduate course work.

How can so many professors believe MOOCs are worth the hype when so few people are learning from them? How do we get people to treat open online courses as true commitments? If “MOOCs are worth the hype,” 70% or more of group participants should be completing them. I am hopeful my MOOC adventure will turn itself around… in fact, I am going to sign-in right now.


2 Comments so far

  1. Sarah Alvanipour on October 15, 2014 4:05 am

    Bobbi, I am actually conducting my project on a MOOC at MIT. I found your post really interesting and relatable. I think we have to look at the motivation behind taking the MOOC and that may tell us a lot about attrition and participation rates. It seeks that unless there is a mandate or reward, we are less likely to follow through. This is in line with both T550 and T509 recent readings. Perhaps it’s just human nature?

  2. Nicole on October 15, 2014 6:31 pm

    I think your questions about MOOCs are very interesting, and I also see some implicit answers to your questions within your comments about your own experiences.

    You mentioned that you do not treat your MOOC the same as you do your regular course work. I think this is not surprising, given that the MOOC is not one of your regular courses. Presumably, if your MOOC did count towards your graduate degree, you would be completing the work just as you are completing work for your other classes.

    Why have you chosen the mission of completing a MOOC? If it is just a personal goal, then that’s great, but it also means that the MOOC is probably going to get the same amount of attention as other personal goals. For example, I have a personal goal to improve my Spanish skills. While that has led me to use Duolingo (the website/app) every day, I certainly do not communicate in Spanish as much as I could.

    I think that your question about how we can judge whether “MOOCs are worth the hype” highlights a fundamental question that we need to be asking. What purpose are MOOCs serving? If professors think that MOOCs are worth the hype because they are transforming higher education, then it seems like that is not the case, since as you pointed out, so few people are completing them. Is the hype simply about making courses available so that people can take advantage of them if they choose? In that case, it seems like MOOCs are achieving that purpose, at least to an extent. Is it worth the hype because creating MOOCs challenges professors to improve their teaching? In any case, we need to consider not only what the MOOCs are doing, but also what the purpose of them is intended to be.

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