MOOCs — Completion Is Not Important

16 Sep

By Matthew LeBar

Salman Khan, famous for the Khan Academy, speaking at TED 2011.
[ Photo credit: Wikipedia ]

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are often described as the future of education — or at least a significant part of it. But there may be a significant problem with them: a very small proportion of students who start them actually finish. This poses a serious threat to their legitimacy. Many are beginning to think that if less than 10% of students even complete MOOCs, they must be useless. This worry is largely unfounded, since people benefit even without completion.

Some have argued that completion is not a good metric of the benefits of these classes, since MOOCs don’t have to replace physical courses. Because they are so much cheaper than physical courses — they’re often free — they do not and should not provide the same services as classroom courses. Unlike physical courses, or even university specific online courses, there’s not much additional payoff for completion of the course.

In this case, MOOCs can work similarly to online tutors that already exist, like Khan Academy or PatrickJMT (Just Math Tutorials). Students can watch these videos on websites like to supplement their in class instruction. These videos are often more useful than the lectures themselves, since they can be re-watched and the instructors are as good, if not better than the professors of physical courses to whom teaching is a secondary priority behind research.

[ Full article available at Forbes: ]

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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in MOOCs in the News, Op-Ed


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