MOOC Fad is Over: Long live Synchronous Online Learning

Posted by pano in MOOCs, online classes, synchronous learning

MOOC Fad is over

The MOOC Fad is Over — Small is Beautiful

Like with so many fads, MOOC’s are coming under intense scrutiny. New research has been conducted by MOOC Research and funded by the Gates Foundation. One part of the study focused on completion data which we share below:

The Findings

Size and length matters. The researchers found that the size of the class and the length of the class really matters.

Size Matters

On at least two counts, there is a significant negative correlation between the size of the MOOC and its completion rates.

More Enrollees Don’t Help

Negative Correlation between number of enrollees and the percentage who complete. This relates to the classic registered user problem with consumer facing websites. The number of registered users is a very bad indication of future success.

MOOC's negatively correlate enrollees and completers

It’s typically the active users that matter. Likely outcome — smaller classes

More Active Users Don’t Help

More active users do not make for a better MOOC. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. There is a significant negative correlation between number of active users and the percentage who complete a MOOC

Negative Correlation between active users and completers

One thought could be that the initial run of students join and participate in the course expecting some kind of result that is not realistic and therefore fade.

Another is a anecdotal characteristic we have seen for years is that only a small percentage of students across any generation have been sufficiently self-motivated to power through the equivalence of correspondence courses.

The faddish nature of MOOC’s is over. MOOC’s have to survive on their own merits.

Longer Courses Don’t Help

The longer your course, the lower the percentage who see it through. The staying power of students with a MOOC is tested severely by the length of the course.

Negative Correlation between course length and completers

 

What’s the Path Forward? Synchronous Online Learning

The economic power of MOOC’s is falling apart. There is no point in having large classes that no one sticks with. If the courses get shorter, and the class sizes get smaller, then we will be seeing a more likely return to synchronous learning as an effective alternative.

Why Online Synchronous Learning Works

Synchronous Learning Drives Engagement

Online synchronous learning works in smaller class sizes for longer durations.

  1. Relationships have time to form, if virtually, across teachers and students.
  2. Teacher engagement is high, enabling active students to be stimulated by the teacher and other students over time.

Online Synchronous Learning reduces the economic cost to experiment

Running synchronous classes online eliminates the fixed costs of buildlng and equipment and thereby enables schools to experiment with smaller class sizes for shorter periods of times with more fine-grained topics. Teacher recruitment for specialization is easier since the physical location of the teacher is irrelevant.

 

 

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