A survey on MOOC’s shows it isn’t really a hype yet

Sometimes living on Twitter or other social media can give you the false impression that what you and your contacts think important, is important to the whole world. Take MOOC’s for an instance. It is something a lot of edubloggers alike are discussing, but when I ask my offline colleagues, it’s much less a topic.

This report by Brodeur.com shows that the public awareness about MOOC’s is relatively low. Still, do know this report isn’t a scientific research paper, but a research conducted by a commercial firm specialized in communication strategies. This means that the results can come in handy if you want to tell people they need help to get their message about MOOC’s across. The report is based on a survey with people in the US interviewed online during May 3-10, 2013 based on a total sample of 1,042 plus an oversampling of college students or students considering college (n=301) and parents of college students (n=218).  The margin of error for the study was plus or minus three percent. Also do know that online survey, for sure for this kind of topic, can also deliver a bias.

Still the results are in line with other research I already mentioned earlier on, showing that students who are currently in the midst of that more-traditional college experience, the idea that that might be replaced by an online experience is not particularly appealing.

What are there insights from their survey? From the press release:

  • Low MOOC familiarity.  The survey showed that while over four in five (82%) of all respondents were familiar with the concept of online courses, only 23% of all survey respondents are familiar with MOOCs.  Those most familiar with MOOCs were employers (33%) and students (30%) the least familiar were parents (23%).
  • Modest conceptual support.  In theory, audiences leaned modestly in favor of the idea of MOOCs.  When provided a neutral description of MOOCs, 37% of respondents think it is a good idea for colleges to participate while 26% think it is a bad idea.
  • Student / alumni splits.  The study showed differences between alumni and students views of MOOCs.  While students were the audience MOST aware of online courses in general, they were the least likely to say MOOCs were a good idea (26%) compared to 41% of alumni who thought MOOCs were a good idea.  But when it came to influencing their desire to attend a particular college, students were overall neutral – 23% said it would make them more likely to want to attend the school, 26% less likely.  When alumni were asked if a MOOC program would influence their decision to donate to that college, the response was a net negative – 26% said it would make them less likely and only 13% said it would make them more likely to donate.
  • Parents are more interested in MOOCs for themselves, than their children.  Just 17% of parents say they would be more likely to want a son or daughter to attend a college that offered many of their courses online or through MOOCs while nearly twice as many (31%) said they would be less likely.  At the same time 47% of parents said they were personally interested in participating in a MOOC compared to only 37% of students.

The survey also tested the strength of messages often used in support of implementing a MOOC program and those messages often used to not pursue a MOOC program.  The survey used a message-testing methodology known as M3 (MaxDiff Message Modeling).  The main findings:

  • Best supporting messages.  Among all audiences, by far the strongest messages in support of MOOCs were arguments that they made higher education more widely available, more affordable, and provided greater flexibility to the student.
  • Best opposition messages.  Those messages in that test best in opposition to the adoption of MOOCs were that they risk compromising the “traditional college experience” and that they did not have the benefits of in-person instruction with a professor.

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