Survey suggests MOOCs are failing to educate the poor - SciDev.Net
"Massive open online courses (MOOCs) may not be reaching the poor, but instead be catering to the rich and well-educated in developing nations, research shows. A global survey of almost 35,000 MOOC students engaged in courses of the online education service Coursera found that the majority were already well-educated and employed, and mostly males. The survey’s results, published today in a letter to Nature, suggests that MOOCs reinforce the advantages of the rich rather than educating those who most need access to free education. According to the survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, United States, more than 80 per cent of MOOC students already had a college degree and 44 per cent had a postgraduate qualification. 'If you look into what some of the commentators say about what MOOCs could do, the goal is revolution in education access. They have said things like: ‘Nothing has the power to unlock a billion more brains than the massive online courses’,' Gayle Christensen, co-author of the survey, tells SciDev.Net. 'So we looked at the data to see if that is the case. At this point, MOOCs are giving more to those who already have a lot.' The survey found that the percentage of MOOC students with university degrees far exceeds the percentage of the general population with such qualifications. This disparity proved particularly stark in Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa, where almost 80 per cent of MOOC students came from the wealthiest and most-educated six per cent of the population ..."