Who completes a MOOC?

September 25, 2012 at 8:02 am 7 comments

We’ve wondered on this blog before: Who completes a MOOC?  Who doesn’t?  edX has released some data on who completed their Circuits & Electronics course, and it’s pretty interesting.  These aren’t newbies.  37% had a bachelors, 28% had a master’s, and 6% had doctorates.  This is only one course, and it’s only the completers, but I’m betting that it’s comparable to other MOOCs when considering (for example) all the folks who got perfect scores on the Udacity CS101 final exam.

The findings are limited and have not been formally compiled or analyzed — Agarwal relayed them to Inside Higher Ed after logging into the platform’s back end from his Cambridge, Massachusetts office. But perhaps the most interesting piece of data is that 80 percent of respondents said they had taken a “comparable” course at a traditional university prior to working their way through Circuits & Electronics.

One way to read the finding is to say that although the Circuits & Electronics course was open to anyone, anybody who had not already paid for traditional education would be ill-equipped to succeed in the course.

To some extent, Agarwal expected that would be the case for Circuits & Electronics, which listed certain physics and math courses as prerequisites. The survey findings affirmed that the successful students were well-educated: about 78 percent of the respondents said they had previously taken a course on vectors or differential equations. Only 4 percent said they had never taken calculus.

via edX explores demographics of most persistent MOOC students | Inside Higher Ed.

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