A new study suggests that parents may be more interested in taking a MOOC than their student children.

While the conversation around massive open online courses (MOOCs) has been largely focused on the good they can do for students, a new survey suggests that it’s parents and alumni who have the most positive views of the technology.

The survey, which was commissioned by public relations and communications agency Brodeur Partners and is the first public opinion survey about MOOCs, examined and compared the attitudes of five audiences affected by the courses: students, parents, alumni, employers and donors.

The study found that while students were the most aware of online courses, only 26 percent said MOOCs were “a good idea,” compared to the 41 percent of alumni who had a favorable view of them. The presence of MOOCs, and the respondents’ opinions of the courses, seemed to have little effect on students’ or alumni’s relation to a university, however.

While 23 percent of students said a MOOC program would make them more likely to attend a specific school, 26 percent said it would make them less likely. The difference was more pronounced among alumni and their decisions to donate. Twenty-six percent of alumni said a MOOC program would make them less likely to donate, and 13 percent said it would make them more likely.

See Page 2 for what percentage of respondents were unfamiliar with MOOCs. 

The study also found that 47 percent of parents said they were “personally interested in participating in a MOOC.” Only 37 percent of the students surveyed were in agreement.

Overall, the viewpoints of MOOCs came from a somewhat limited pool of respondents. That’s because the study found that the majority of those surveyed were not even familiar with the concept of MOOCs. 82 percent of all respondents we’re aware of online courses, but only 23 percent of them were aware of MOOCs.

Employers seemed to have the most familiarity, with 33 percent saying they were familiar with the concept, followed by students with 30 percent. Parents were the least familiar of the bunch, with only 23 percent of respondents saying they were aware of MOOCs.

“The data suggests that colleges and universities should not ignore the appeal of MOOCs in making education more accessible and affordable,” said Greg Schneiders, founder of PrimeGroup, which worked with Brodeur Partners on the study. “At the same time, they must make clear that the traditional college experience is not going away.”


Add your opinion to the discussion.