Many students complained about interaction with MOOC peers.

Massive open online course (MOOC) completion rates hover around 7 percent worldwide, and beyond stringing criticism from MOOC skeptics in higher education, there’s not much documentation for why so few students complete the classes.

Open Culture, a website documenting the growth of MOOCs, recently published a list of the most common reasons for dropping out of MOOCs before the courses were finished, revealing a few telling tidbits about potential shortcomings for MOOC providers.

Katy Jordan, an Open University doctoral student who conducted research into web-based academic social networks, said in May that her examination of 29 MOOC platforms showed that only 7 percent of people who signed up for courses actually completed those courses.

The highest completion rate found in Jordan’s research was from a Swiss-based course in which 19 percent of students finished the class.

As Open Culture pointed out in their compiling of the top-10 reasons students dropped out of MOOCs, “the completion rates aren’t so much a problem for you; they’re more a problem for the MOOC providers and their business models.”

1) Completing MOOCs takes too much time: Many respondents said watching online lectures and completing homework assignments was simply too much to incorporate into their schedules.

2) MOOCs assume students are well informed: Many complaints centered around an assumed “knowledge base” that was often essential to understanding the course material.

3) Some MOOCs were too easy: Students found these MOOCs lacking in challenging material, with some literature courses feeling “like a glorified book club.”

See Page 2 for the rest of the Top 10…

4) Boring lectures: Having to watch web-based lectures drove some students away from MOOCs. MOOCs would be better served if they relied more heavily on interactive forms of pedagogy,” Open Culture wrote.

5) Poor course design: Despite ample instructions on how to access course material and lectures, some students found it difficult to navigate a MOOC and engage its curriculum.

6) Lack of constructive interaction: There were some complaints about online discussion forums with MOOC teachers and fellow students that weren’t nearly as helpful as traditional in-class exchanges.

7) Trolls: Peer review of MOOC assignments were often marred by rude students who made exchanges of ideas almost impossible with no supervision from MOOC educators or teacher assistants.

8) Hidden costs: Students were surprised to learn that, despite MOOCs’ reputation as a free online educational resource, they were sometimes required to purchase pricey textbooks recommended by professors.

9) Course shopping: Students, in their perusing of available MOOC offerings, would sign up for many courses and decide later which options they’d engage, and which options they would drop.

10) Learning instead of earning: Students who sign up for a MOOC to enhance their knowledge of a subject might be unlikely to take the course’s final exam, meaning they’ve completed everything in a MOOC except for the final piece.


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