By Michael Lynch
There are more than 7 million students around the world enrolled in some 12,000 Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, with topics ranging from oil and acrylic painting techniques to developmental artificial intelligence.
But, MOOCs aren’t your typical online classes. They’re free; they don’t go towards earning a degree; and, rarely are there assignments, but therein lies the problem.
In their current form, MOOCs, the tool that was supposed to change education forever, just don’t have what it takes to keep users interested. The classes have a dropout rate of about 95 percent and of the fewer than 5 percent that complete a course, the majority are U.S. college graduates.
“It requires a lot more effort to get something out,” Carnegie Mellon University Associate Professor Carolyn Rosé said. “If you want to learn, you really have to put the effort forth and it’s not generally true that people have good learning to learn skills. They may just not have what it takes.”
Thanks to a two-year $600,000 research award from Google, Rosé is trying to figure out how to lower dropout rates in MOOCs.
She said the MOOCs biggest flaw is a lack of social interaction.
“We can shape the social environment around MOOCs to make them more supportive and to keep people in and to help people find the support that they need,” Rosé said.
Unlike in the traditional classroom, MOOC users learn in isolation and are rarely given the chance to work with other online students.
[ Full article available at WESA: http://wesa.fm/post/cmu-google-team-improve-online-education ]