PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A study of free online college courses has found that only half the students who sign up start the classwork and only one in 20 finish.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education tracked 1 million people who signed up for what have become known as MOOCs, for massive open online courses, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
Another Penn survey suggested students signing up for online study are not the disadvantaged that some advocates hoped would be helped. The study found 80 percent of those registering for online courses at Penn already have a degree.
Universities and for-profit companies are now experimenting with ways to make MOOCs more effective, the Times said. These include supplementing lectures with videos and organizing small discussion groups for students in the same area -- held at U.S. consulates for those overseas.
"It's like, 'The MOOC is dead, long live the MOOC,'" said Jonathan Rees, a Colorado State University-Pueblo professor. "At the beginning everybody talked about MOOCs being entirely online, but now we're seeing lots of things that fall in the middle, and even I see the appeal of that."
Rees has been a critic of MOOCs, arguing universities would use them as an excuse to cut funding for on-campus teachers.