vendredi 12 décembre 2014

[edX] Update on progress

As you may have probably noted, I did not follow up on the course in a regular manner and most importantly did not post any updates.

I could go on-and-on and complain about the work load and the motivation and ... but the reality is that I am not alone and the answer is much more complex than laziness. For instance, Justin Reich has recently suggested that completion rates of MOOCs are between 2% and 10% [1]. We are not talking about success, just mere completion is that low. However, when we browse a bit farther, we will find that a completion of a course depends on student's motivations to take the course. From those who intent to explore and discover only 6% complete a course and from those who wanted to do it 22% earn a certificate.

The main argument revolves around the fact that most MOOC courses can not be explored or surveyed before the lesson starts. If we compare this scenario with real classes in schools and universities it looks like one would need to enroll in all classes with a name that sounds interesting and drop them after if they do not fit. In MOOCs, there is no history of similar classes, no one to ask about how it was last year and a very limited information is provided in short 2-3 minutes videos intended to "hook up" more students.

The data comes from nine HarvardX courses with a total of 290 000 students with a response from almost 80 000 students. This gives us a rate of participation of roughly 27.6%. By most standards, it is low, really low. Just this information says a lot about student engagement and intent. It is equivalent of only 8 students answering to a pool in a real classroom of 30 after multiple reminders from a teacher. Does it happen in your classroom? I hope not! It does not happen in mine: even the less motivated and less engaged groups with difficulties have a participation rate varying between 40% and 50%.

More information is shown in the graphic presenting "survivor proportion" throughout the course. While the graphic is not detailed enough, we can see that up to 25%  of those who have responded and around 75% of those who have not responded drop the course in the first days. Half way through the course, around 50% drop from those left after first days in each and every category. This looks a lot like an exponential function of decay we can see in nature!

While at the end of the course there seems to be a notable difference between all groups and those with the initial intention to complete, the drop rates are huge. In fact, given reported drop rates only 20 300 students from 290 000 that have initially registered have actually profited from the course. The intent is definitely important, but keeping the interests and engagement of students looks to be even more important.

So what is my intent? Where am I: in the browse group, audit group or ... ? Initially I hoped to learn something new and complete the course because I have to. However, new learning does not mean any learning. In fact, one of the components of the course: leadership does not interest me. I have no need to do anything on As a result, I have no personal intrinsic reason to do the course on time and the external requirements from my other McGill course was clearly not enough. But I still have my goal to learn something new, something relevant. So how could I live-up to my own expectations?

This does brake the natural flow of the learning experience, but I decided to do it all at once. That is, go through each and every lesson and see what I learn, what I experience. Luckily the materials are available even after the end of the course and I can do it all tonight and tomorrow stopping only to post information here, in my blog.