Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs have polarized educators. Many believe they are more efficient and are the future of education. Others, have been outspoken critics and point to the fact that very few students actually complete the courses they sign up for. MOOCs have been around for several years so we can start to see emerging trends for the polarizing classes.
As MOOCs become more popular, more classes are being offered and more data is available. Harvard recently released their findings from a study on intentions, completion rates and more.
Many of the users that are using the MOOCs are educators themselves. Over a third of the users are teachers. Many of them use the content to improve their ability to teach. However, it looks like they might just have an appreciation for learning because over three-fourths of the students that identified as educators were studying subjects they don’t teach.
The demographic of users of these platforms vary but a higher percentage of women and older individuals are registering for courses.
A lot of the talk surrounding MOOCs is whether they will complement or supplant traditional education. Though it is far too early to make any conclusions, they might do both. A look at the survey of students shows that nearly half of participants took classes without the desire to earn a certificate. No follow up has been done to see whether earning a certificate makes any discernible difference in students being able to achieve their goals.
Computer Science has higher participation than any other subject. No conclusions have been made as to what this means but one can imagine between students who are likely early adopters of new technology and the prospect of high-paying jobs this is not surprising.
Though MOOCs have yet to disrupt traditional education further improvements based on comprehensive studies like this will result in it having an important place in the education space.