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Putting MOOCs Under a Microscope

by Ellen Wexler

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Article excerpt

What the Results of a Survey of Coursera Students Mean for Online Learning

A report released [in September] draws on a survey of Coursera students to look at their motivations and what kinds of educational and career results they are seeing. Published in the Harvard Business Review, it is the first study of Coursera students’ self-reported learning outcomes.

Our take

More Intangible, Than Tangible, Benefits from MOOC Courses

MOOCs (massive open online courses) have been around for a while now; are they providing any benefits? A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, sheds some light on the issue. The study provides insights into student-reported benefits from Coursera courses, suggesting more intangible than tangible results and more benefits for lower income learners. Does the model hold promise for the future?

While most respondents reported benefits from their coursework, tangible benefits (like finding a new job or getting a promotion) were much less likely to be reported than intangible benefits, among both groups studied—career builders and education seekers. It would be interesting to do a comparative study of how students in traditional classes view the benefits received.

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