Most MOOC students already have college degrees, in a sample analyzed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
Let's hope the visionary promise of MOOCs—universal online college access for the uneducated—gets a better report card in future.
UofP offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through Coursera, one of the high-profile providers of these worldwide, open-access, completely online courses.
In a study of 34,779 students in 24 UofP MOOC courses, more than 80% had an associate's or bachelor's degree, and 44% had at least some graduate education.
In countries such China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa, where MOOCs are popular, “80 percent of MOOC students come from the wealthiest and most well educated 6 percent of the population”
This limited study suggests that MOOCs generally are not reaching poor, uneducated folks in geographic areas and social strata where opportunities for college-level education are limited.
The UofP researchers take pains to mention that these findings represent students of the two dozen courses examined in the study, and may not represent the millions of MOOC students worldwide. The survey was conducted among students who registered for a MOOC, and watched at least one video lecture in the course.
More education is better, no matter who is getting it. Let's hope the visionary promise of MOOCs—universal college access—gets a better report card in future.
….and here's another point of view: Are MOOCs "middlebrow" ?