“While 50 percent of MOOC registrants dropped off within a week or two of enrolling, attrition rates decreased substantially after that window.”
So with a 50% attrition rate everyone has to keep in mind those overwhelmingly large enrollment are not representative of the typical definition of the word “student”. They are shopping. They are consumers who once they find something is not to their taste whisk away to the next most interesting thing. Hard to say what impact this has on people “waiting in line” if there’s a cap on total enrollees. Typically though the unlimited enrollment seems to be the norm for this style of teaching as well as unlimited in ‘length of time’. You can enroll/register after the course has completed. That however throws off the measurements of dropping out as the registration occurs outside the time of the class actively being conducted. So there’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered. More experiments designed to factor out the idiosyncracies of these open fora online.
There is an interesting Q&A interview after the opening summary in this article talking with one of the primary researchers on MOOCs, Andrew Ho, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It’s hard to gauge “success” or to get accurate demographic information to help analyze the behavior of some MOOC enrollees. The second year of the experiments will hopefully yield better results, something like conclusions should be made after the second round. But Ho emphasizes we need more data from a wider sampling than just Harvard and MIT, that will confirm or help guide further research in the large scale, Massive Online Open Course (MOOC). As the cliché goes, the jury is still out on the value add of offering real college courses in the MOOC format.