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4.4 The learner experience in MOOCs

Figure 11

There is a strong emphasis on learner independence and peer support in MOOCs. Partly this is a result of their scale and that they are free – the providers of the course cannot afford to employ sufficient staff to provide support. This approach has also derived from the values of the early adopters, who wanted to explore pedagogies based around social connections. This has led to some criticism that MOOCs are only suitable for more experienced learners and those who are technologically competent. Arguably, the MOOCs arising from commercial ventures have adopted a more traditional pedagogic approach.

The completion rate for MOOCs is very low, as this article in The Atlantic [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] points out. However, if courses are free and people are trying them out, then a high drop-out rate might be expected, but it is worth considering whether this high attrition rate raises problems for MOOCs as a general approach, or whether we need to use different metrics to assess the ‘success’ of a MOOC.

Activity 14: Comparing MOOCs

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