Are students ‘too busy’ for MOOCs?

Sixty-eight percent of students who failed to complete a MOOC said a main reason was that they were “too busy.”

MOOCs are often championed for their accessibility, their convenience, and their engaging use of video lectures. So why, with retention rates hovering between 5 and 10 percent, do students have such trouble actually getting through a course?

According to a survey released by Instructure, the education technology company behind the learning management system Canvas, MOOC students may just be too busy.

“The popularity of MOOCs shows an appetite for learning in the open online format, but these courses are competing for attention in an age of digital entertainment and social media,” said Misty Frost, Instructure’s chief marketing officer. “Simply replicating the lecture model of instruction in a MOOC doesn’t facilitate the educational experience needed to sustain engagement.”

The study was conducted by Instructure and the research software company Qualtrics, and surveyed 1,834 people who registered for one of Canvas’ MOOCs.

About 700 of them had just enrolled in a course, while 1,138 had participated in concluded courses.

Of the 1,138 participants, 68 percent of those who did not complete the course said a main reason for not finishing was that they were “too busy.” Twenty-nine percent of those participants said being too busy was the primary reason for failing to complete a MOOC.

See Page 2 for what students say would help motivate them to finish a MOOC.

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