Feynman Liang will make you feel like a slacker. The 21-year-old is pursuing a dual-degree program in engineering and biophysics from Dartmouth and Amherst, but in the last year or so, he’s also completed 36 massive open online courses (MOOCs) on Coursera, Udacity and edX, Gigaom reports. Right now, he said, he’s taking 10 courses simultaneously — while he completes a summer internship at Google. When his friends go out for Thursday night parties, he said he often stays back to complete Coursera assignments due the next day. And, once, he spent 80 hours on a single assignment. But he said the MOOCs have helped him pass out of lower-level classes in college and even prepped him for his Google interviews. “I get to gain a nontrivial understanding of a field,” he said. “And it translates into me doing a lot better in college.” In the past year, MOOCs have attracted all kinds of interest from people inside and outside education. And the major MOOC startups have teamed up with dozens of top-notch schools around the world for classes in a range of disciplines. But, despite the buzz, attrition rates are very high — some estimates say as many as 90 percent of online students never finish the classes they sign up for.
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