A new study out of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education has found that, on average, just four percent of people who sign up for online courses complete them. The New York Times reports the study comes after other setbacks, like the failure of a large pilot program in California backed by hi-tech leaders from Silicon Valley.
The results of the study may give pause to professors at Brown University and numerous other schools now developing online courses, or MOOCs, as they're known. They may also reassure critics who worried that online courses would one day replace traditional interactions between professors and students.
Supporters of MOOCs say they may yet fulfill their promise of bringing elite education to the masses, and the movement to the Internet is not going away. The call these early results part of the learning process.
“We’re moving from the hype to the implementation,” George Siemens from the Gates Foundation told The New York Times.
“It’s exciting to see universities saying, ‘Fine, you woke us up,’ and beginning to grapple with how the Internet can change the university, how it doesn’t have to be all about teaching 25 people in a room.
“Now that we have the technology to teach 100,000 students online,” he said, “the next challenge will be scaling creativity, and finding a way that even in a class of 100,000, adaptive learning can give each student a personal experience.”