Who Takes MOOCs & Why?

A new survey of 1800 students taking Massive Open Online Courses shows an interesting profile of the average person taking a MOOC. According to a summary in the Wall Street Journal (click here for article) the clientele of these courses

are not your typical college kids. These are older people, many with advanced degrees. They participate in online courses because they are curious about the subject matter, and they are motivated, in part, by the courses’ being free of charge.


The survey found that of the highly-engaged students, those who completed several MOOCs, 55% have a master’s degree or higher. Age-wise, 74% of the highly engaged students are between 24 and 53 years old. And 63% of them are female.

According to another story about the survey posted on PR Newswire (click here for article)

The study found that course topic is the main motivator for enrollment among 35 percent of MOOC participants, followed by personal or professional development (24 percent) and the fact that MOOCs are free (16 percent). Among those who didn’t complete, 29 percent said the main reason was the learning experience didn’t match their expectations, and the same number said they were too busy to finish.

The survey found active engagement among the students in the MOOCs.

Surprisingly, MOOCs are converting fence sitters into active participants during the course.  About 72 percent of participants reported engaging in course discussions, compared to only 60 percent who expected to do so at the outset.

The study also suggests that engagement with other students in course discussions is particularly important in the virtual environment. About 24 percent of those who completed their courses reported being highly engaged in course discussions with fellow participants, compared to only 3 percent of those who failed to complete.

No link to the actual survey was available at the time of this post.

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