Millions of people have taken free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which have been touted as democratizing access to educational opportunities around the world. But whether learners are likely to succeed in a MOOC largely depends on where they live, according to new Stanford-led research.
Stanford researchers show in a new study how affirmation activities help students persevere in online courses despite low development in their home countries.
A study, published in the Jan. 20 issue of Science, found that people in less-developed countries are completing MOOCs at a lower rate than those in the more developed parts of the world.
But, the researchers found, brief psychological interventions that affirm class takers’ sense that they belong can help close the global achievement gap.
“MOOCs have expanded access to education but this doesn’t guarantee equal opportunities for people around the world,” said René Kizilcec, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication. “Providing access to the Internet and courseware is not enough. People need to feel welcome in online-learning environments to reach their potential.”