When we saw the first reports about MOOCs and lack of completion, many of us were not surprised. We were also not surprised to see the demographic statistics – more than half of the learners in most courses had undergraduate degrees, and a large percentage had masters degrees and many even higher. This article from The Atlantic discusses something that may be happening subliminally (or purposefully) – my suspicion is that teachers don’t think “I’m going to do some professional development now” or “I’m going to watch a master teacher teach my class” as this article suggests. I do think that getting new ideas for classes is important, and both teachers and professors are probably participating in MOOCs for that reason, to a degree.
I would also propose that they participate for the social aspect – to meet other educators and like minded people who like to learn. I wrote an article in Medium over a year ago making an analogy between MOOCs and large scale online games (MMORPGs) because I saw learning as enjoyable for this population, much like games.
It’s a good article, and worth reading.
“What jumped out for me was that … as many as 39 percent of our learners [in MOOCs overall] are teachers,” said Isaac Chuang, one of the study’s lead researchers. In some of Harvard’s MOOCs, half the students were teachers. And in “Leaders of Learning”—a course out of its Graduate School of Education—a whopping two-thirds of participants identified as such.