Massive open online courses (MOOCs) from Coursera can yield tangible benefits to learners, according to a new longitudinal study of open online learning outcomes published in Harvard Business Review. The University of Pennsylvania/University of Washington study concentrated on what students have gained by completing MOOCs and whether they can work to the advantage of participants in a low socioeconomic level, says the University of Pennsylvania's Ezekiel J. Emanuel.
The researchers conducted a poll of 51,954 Coursera MOOC students, 58 percent of whom were male, 69 percent had either a bachelor's or a master's degree, and 58 percent were employed full time. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they enrolled for professional advancement, versus 28 percent who cited educational advancement. One third reported gaining tangible career benefits compared to 18 percent who said they had tangible educational benefits. In the former category, 62 percent felt more ready for their jobs after completing a MOOC, while 43 percent thought the MOOCs made them more competitive job applicants. Twenty-six percent said the biggest benefit they got was landing a new job.
In addition, low-income, under- or unemployed learners without bachelor's degrees were more likely to point to benefits from MOOCs.
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