Online College Education: Missing Links

The idea of online education, or MOOC, creates an excited energy not only for the prospective student, but for those selling the idea. The promise of independence and flexibility that comes with an online education is extremely appealing to people who have families to take care of or who work multiple jobs. While marketers prey on these desires, they fail to mention some things. Sadly, 85% of MOOC students’ dropout, which poses a challenge in creating a strong educational environment.
Christina Wasson recounts some weaknesses of MOOC’s in her study. She shows that while “cognitive presence” can be supported in the online educational world, in most cases the “social presence” and “teaching presence” is absent. Basically, critical thinking does happen within these environments, however the usually large class sizes detract from the social interactions that go along with a college experience.
This may be because at college campuses, where students are interacting with peers and professors in and out of the classroom, a form of fictive kinship is created. Students have duties to complete their work and go to class, as well as help their peers adjust to college life. This give and take creates a supportive and clear social system, which encourages the student to succeed. Often, students refer to their college as their “home”, thus supporting the familial sense that is present within groups on campuses. In order to succeed MOOC’s need to find ways to create these bonds, the first step being to reduce dropouts rates to create a more socially stable environment.


Demystifying MOOCs: An Eye-Opening Ethnographic Study of Online Education