The 94% failure rate of MOOCs

Here are some dire facts about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC):

  • The average rate of completion is 4%.
  • Most people fall off in first two weeks.
  • 50% view only a single lecture.
  • 80% who sign up have college degrees.
  • Even though there is no academic credit for completing a MOOC, people still cheat and plagiarize.
  • You can hire someone to complete an online course for you. The current rate is between $775 and $900.

But these numbers don’t tell us anything. Or, rather, they can be used to tell us anything we want:

“Look at the appalling completion rates of MOOCs! They’re a complete failure! If their foundation is rooted in the idea that education should be accessible to all, then what purpose do they serve if in practice only a few people are helped?”

Or the misanthropic view:

“People are lazy.”

The problem is these stats say nothing of who completed them let alone how much 4% is.

A closer look at who completed MOOCs reveals an accurate picture of their importance. That brilliance and change and impact will come from the most unexpected places. They accelerate learning, they don’t eliminate it. This is critical for pushing world economies forward, bringing greater wealth to the farthest edges.

There’d also be a realization that persistence, focus, and determination are still, and will continue to be, the easiest way to separate from the herd.

Here is what Robert Greene says about the importance of learning and mastery:

β€œIn the future, the great division will be between those who have trained themselves to handle these complexities and those who are overwhelmed by them — those who can acquire skills and discipline their minds and those who are irrevocably distracted by all the media around them and can never focus enough to learn.”
― Robert Greene, from his book Mastery.