The advantage of learning from MOOC mistakes

The company is one of two major for-profit players in the business of delivering MOOCs to the world. The other is Udacity. Both were founded in early 2012.

UNM also has a relationship with Udacity. The university awards three credit hours to students who complete a Udacity course called Introduction to Computer Science.

There is no cost to UNM. The idea is to entice students who pass the course to continue their education at UNM. Before they can get university credit, however, they are required to pass a UNM-generated exam on the subject.

MOOC registration

Registration will be available soon for UNM Professor Greg Heileman’s class on Web Application Architectures. Go to, and follow the links once they are posted.

Once a university course is offered through Coursera or Udacity, the content can be used by another school, which would pay a licensing fee to the company. A small portion of that fee would trickle down to the original university; the amount depends on the number of students taking the course.

In this way, Heileman said, UNM (or any university) could pick up a math class, for example, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the not-so-distant future, this will become a common way for MOOCs to be used, he predicted, adding, “MOOCs are like textbooks.”

Heileman said he expects generally tech-savvy students to sign up for his course — “a lot of people experimenting” — but acknowledged that a very low percentage of those who sign up for MOOCs end up completing the courses.

Data on attrition rates are sketchy, but a survey last year by the Chronicle of Higher Education placed the median number of students enrolling in MOOCs at 33,000. Although millions of students had registered for courses through Coursera, the company and its university partners had awarded only 280,000 certificates of completion.

Most students who register for a MOOC have no intention of completing the course, Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller told the Chronicle. “Their intent is to explore, find out something about the content, and move on to something else,” she said.