After just a few years, an explosion of interest, a lot of criticism and some iteration, the MOOC craze has recently come under close scrutiny. A recent University of Pennsylvania study of the 16 courses that the university offered through Coursera indicates that classes with thousands of students may not close the college gap as quickly as some champions had hoped. On average, the University of Pennsylvania completion rate for its MOOCS was just four percent, although completion rates went up when the expectations for the class were lower. “One thing that did seem to make a difference was the number of expectations on the users,” said Laura Perna, co-author of the study on KQED’s Forum program. “Those who had fewer homework assignments, for example, had higher persistence rates.” Another study conducted by Ezekiel Emanuel at the University of Pennsylvania found that 80 percent of MOOC users already have an advanced degree. Combined these studies cast doubt on the original hope that MOOCs would provide low-cost higher education to people across the world that don’t have access to traditional universities, but do have access to the internet and a motivation to learn.
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