Archive for January 29, 2013
My colleague Tucker Balch posted on his blog the detailed demographics of his Coursera MOOC (the first at Georgia Tech), “Computational Investing.” He got 41% of the completers to respond to his survey, but only 2.6% of those who enrolled but did not complete. That’s a remarkable response rate, so it’s a great snapshot into who completes a course like this.
A big caveat up-front: This is “Computational Investing.” It’s clearly an elective subject, so we would expect demographics to shift from what we might hope to see in a required course (like CS1 or data structures) or a common upper-level course (like AI).
Some of the results that I found intriguing:
- I predicted that CS course MOOC completers would be 80% white or Asian and 90% male. I underestimated. Tucker’s course was 88.6% white or Asian and 91% male.
- 73.3% of completers came from OECD countries (as a measure of “developed”), and half of those were from the US. So, were the completers people who couldn’t get access to higher education otherwise? Nope. Over 10% had their PhD’s, and over 40% had their Master’s degree. Less than 10% of the completers only had a high school degree.
- The discussion forums were not how most students asked questions. Everyone reads (over 95%), but only 33% post — which is pretty similar to the lack of participation that we documented years ago in engineering courses using Wikis. That doesn’t mean that the collaboration forums aren’t contributing to learning, but it does mean that it’s not substituting for discussion in the classroom.