Dropping out of a MOOC? Is that even possible or just a popular oxymoron? Perspectives and clarification countering misplaced concerns over seeing so many or even being one yourself.

Viplav Baxi's Meanderings

Audrey is grumpy and unhappy about the massive dropout rate vs. the hype of the open courses. She writes:

I’m starting to get more than a little grumpy about MOOCs, what with all the hype about the revolutionary disruptions and game-changing tsunamis. I’m tired of the mainstream media punditry and their predictions that Stanford University’s experiments with online education (and by extension now Coursera and Udacity) will change everything; I’m tired of Silicon Valley’s exuberance that this could mark the end-of-the-(academic)-world-as-we-know-it – a future that its press, its investors, and its entrepreneurs are all invested (sometimes literally) in being both high tech and highly lucrative.

And she goes on to say:

While aspiring to learn is, indeed, worth celebrating, I can’t imagine anyone seriously argue that aspiring to learn is sufficient. Yet The Atlantic suggests the low success rates are “a sign of the system’s efficiency.”
And perhaps as these MOOCs are…

View original post 456 more words

By VanessaVaile

Briefly: identity, a work in progress, curiosity driven lifelong learner, polyglot polymath, proud SJW, curator of myself, guerrilla educationist, retired educator, wrangler, wanderer.


  1. Every day more than 7000 students drop out from school (only in) USA. That is something to worry about. Predicting the future of education is so empty and non-academic talk.


  2. Empty, yes (although too often unavoidable), useless too, but not exactly “non-academic talk,” at least not according to the plethora of academic blogs and higher ed media I am obliged to follow. It’s more like an obsession, with even organizations devoted to it. Sometimes I yearn to say, “then just shoot the poor beast and put us out of our misery,”

    Having taught both remedial prep courses for unprepared college students (who, understandably, have a very high drop out rate) and GED (general education diploma for high school drop outs), I do have an experienced based understanding of the situation, perhaps keener for being about more than just quoting stats.


  3. I feel like, in my own experiences with MOOCs, I don’t so much “drop out” as drift away with plans to come back (plans that have occasionally become reality). For instance, I stepped away from Udacity’s CS101 course even though I had nearly completed it because I just had too many summer commitments. Now I’m going back through the material and arguably learning more through the review than I would have if I’d just plowed through it in the six weeks I’d originally planned to complete it in. Whether I’ll return to other “on hold” MOOCs is up in the air, of course, but I think that “dropping out” is a much more amorphous concept in MOOCs than it would be in traditional institutional contexts.


    1. Good strategy ~ mine is similar. Stephen Downes commented somewhere about the expression “dropping out” not being relevant to mooc. Lurking is different too. I’m not even sure the conventional “taking a course” even applies and have been thinking about possible alternatives


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