Great Reads: Initial trends in enrollment and completion of massive open online courses

This solid article is by Katy Jordan (Her fascinating blog). The article, which seeks to understand the student relationship to MOOC platforms, is published at The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning.

Here is the Abstract and there are multiple media links below.

The past two years have seen rapid development of massive open online courses (MOOCs) with the rise of a number of MOOC platforms. The scale of enrolment and participation in the earliest mainstream MOOC courses has garnered a good deal of media attention. However, data about how the enrolment and completion figures have changed since the early courses is not consistently released. This paper seeks to draw together the data that has found its way into the public domain in order to explore factors affecting enrolment and completion. The average MOOC course is found to enroll around 43,000 students, 6.5% of whom complete the course. Enrolment numbers are decreasing over time and are positively correlated with course length. Completion rates are consistent across time, university rank, and total enrolment, but negatively correlated with course length. This study provides a more detailed view of trends in enrolment and completion than was available previously, and a more accurate view of how the MOOC field is developing.

Full Text: HTML  PDF  MP3   EPUB
Here is the data she gathered.
Note the introduction to better understand her goals and process.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have the potential to enable free university-level education on an enormous scale. A concern often raised about MOOCs is that although thousands enrol for courses, a very small proportion actually complete the course. The release of information about enrollment and completion rates from MOOCs appears to be ad hoc at the moment – that is, official statistics are not published for every course. This data visualisation draws together information about enrollment numbers and completion rates from across online news stories and blogs

MOOC Completion Rates: The Data

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Great Reads: The MOOC Revolution That Wasn’t

Here is a great article from techcrunch that along with offering several plugs for the author, Dan Friedman’s, compelling one-to-one education company, Thinkful, the writing offers three great suggestions to improve student retention and completion.

  1. One-on-one mentorship was long ago found to be dramatically more effective than group instruction.
  2. Second, retention marketing needs to be brought to learning.
  3. Third, new technologies enable methods of “learn by doing” that just weren’t possible before we could deliver immersive experiences to people’s laptops and phones.

He also warns against dumbing down courses to try to improve completion.

The future of online learning isn’t about accessibility: it’s about taking what we already know works offline and combining it with what you can only do online to create the most engaging experience

See the rest of the article here.

Discussion with Udemy students results in new strategy #mooc #elearners #Udemy

Student engagement in the Mooc space is an ongoing mystery that I am trying to solve.

I published “Your Writing Process: 9 Easy Steps to Better Writing” a little over 2 months ago. At first I thought I was a genius and it was an instant sensation with 600 enrolled to the free course in the first week.

After 2 months, of watching the course completion statistics, I began to notice some interesting results. Despite 9 unsolicited and very positive reviews and over 1000 enrolled students, less than 1% of the students finished the course and only 119 had even started.

I decided to confide in my students and find out their opinions why this is the case. See below to read what they told me.

First you will see my announcement and then you will see their answers with the first names only and the links to their pages blocked out.

After about a 1.5 months on Udemy.

  • I have 1112 students.
  • 7 very good reviews.
  • 119 at least started (above 0% completion)
  • 11 achieved 100% completions.
  • Around 27 completed more than 50% of course
  • 993 never started.

Fascinating data points.

As Students why do you think so few who sign up actually ever take the course and less than 1% complete 100% of the course?

Would it be a better incentive for students to start the course and finish if I offered 15-20 minutes of real time feedback to students who completed the course?

or/and

If I charged a nominal fee ($5-10), would students be more likely to complete the course?

Thanks for your feedback,

Scott

·

  • James – At this point I have 183 courses in mycourses list. I think it is a matter of time. I signed up for your course. I have no idea when I will have the time and or finish it. It whenever I can get to it. I think this is probably true of others as well. · 8 days ago ·
  • Andy – The likely cause of the large gap between students who sign up and those that start and/or finish your course may be from the fact that it is a free course, with no barrier to entry. People with only a passing interest in writing may sign up for it as they are browsing the courses available on Udemy. Because it is more of an impulse “buy”, rather than a purchase made because of a burning desire or need to improve their writing, they have no motivation to really start the course with an intention of finishing. · 8 days ago ·
  • Andy – It is possible that you would have a higher finish rate if you charged a small fee, even $10. The other thing to try would be to rebrand it as an Executive Level writing course or something and charge $79 for it. Sometimes people associate a higher price with greater value, and do not see it as a greater risk. It’s hard to say what the best strategy is. · 8 days ago ·
  • Theresa – I signed up for it so I wouldn’t lose it. Plan to do it next year while my kids are doing homeschool. · 8 days ago ·
  • Tony – I’m one of the 993. I bought it while they were having a sale along with several other courses. I’m slowly working my way through those courses now. · 8 days ago ·
  • Tony – I can only guess at the reasons. Perhaps they signed up because it was free and then it turned out to be something different than they thought. Perhaps they found out that some actual effort was involved and quickly moved on. I think sometimes people look for things that will help them better themselves; however, they want the results by just clicking a button and not by exerting themselves in any way. I myself will finish the course in due time along with any others I feel will help me along the road to making money with my writing. I hope this helps. · 8 days ago ·
  • Robert – I have nothing additional to add Scott. It’s like most people who have lots of books on their shelves and yet they haven’t read most of them. They kid themselves saying “I’ll get around to reading this that or the other, someday”. It would take me years to get through all I have bought in bookshops. · 8 days ago ·
  • Susan – I signed up and didn’t start right away. I love to learn but I tend to overreach. I have decided to do 4 to 6 lessons a day — in alternating courses, until I get complete. · 8 days ago ·
  • me

    Sheila – I am one of the 11 who completed the course and wrote the review of my art class. I sent it in to the art instructor and had only 3 minor corrections to make and he complemented me on a job well done. This is the first writing course I have taken that I actually was able to follow and write an article from beginning to completion. The course was well done and with the example you presented and demonstrated on how you do it, really helped make it simple and easy to follow. I enjoyed the course very much.
    In addition to that, I took several other courses through Udemy and completed all of them as well. I paid for all of them except this one and enjoyed them all. It is good to have a class free sometimes when you pay for everything else. It won’t matter what you do, there is always going to be some who take advantage of the opportunities available to them and others who won’t be able to for a wide variety of reasons. There is a lot of work involved and sometimes the work is too much for various reasons, and there is nothing they can do about it,
    I also think it would help if people had homework to do in a certain time frame that might motivate people. I know many people want to know if they are getting it and want to get feedback on their progress.
    In addition, since I took the course, I have started working on an article I have been wanting to do for some time, but couldn’t get the information together in a well presented way, but now, I am using your method and so far, it is coming together nicely.
    I hope you don’t get too discouraged to continue, it is not anything you are doing that has caused this situation, but it is the result of a lot of people with a lot going on in their lives and have good intentions that aren’t always able to do what they would like to do. I hope this helps! · 8 days ago ·
  • Asian – Sometimes with the best will in the world, life just gets in the way. · 8 days ago ·
  • me

    Scott Kramer – Thank you all dearly for the thoughtful feedback. Not only did I learn from the insights offered, but I must say I admire the concise writing. I have two more courses on the way and will keep you all posted as they are finished. Best regards, Scott Kramer · 8 days ago ·
  • Tea – I am new to online learning, but am thrilled with the many possibilities. Perhaps a bit too much so. Like others above, I have entered more than a few classes just to be sure I do not lose them. I am a mother of two, looking for work, and currently taking 3 classes which are NOT self paced. Since they are already in progress and I have to swim if I don’t want to sink, they take priority. I cannot do All The Courses all at once, but when my schedule opens up, I want to have interesting courses like this one already on lock down right where I can find them. · 2 days ago ·

So my change of course has begun.  First, I  have begun to charge for the course. I charged $30 to begin with and lowered it to $19 after two days and no new bites by students.  I was averaging 10-15 enrolled a day when it was free. So far there have been no new students. With this, I am going to begin a marketing effort using Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter to build awareness and to distribute Udemy coupons. Finally, I am going to get two more courses launched in the next two months.

I accept that fact that I may have far less students by charging.  The hope is that the students that do sign up are invested in the course and actually finish it. If after a month there is no significant shift and a regular enrollments then I will lower the price again.

I will keep you all posted on my results.  If any educators would like a coupon to try the course and review it please email me at uwritingprocess@gmail.com