How Online Education Can Fix Its Student Retention Problem2017-01-20,

How Online Education Can Fix Its Student Retention Problem

The recent growth of online education has been astounding. Last year, 35 million people signed up for at least one online class. That’s more than double the previous year’s enrollment.

The popularity of online learning is easy to understand. Today, students have access to well over 4,000 courses in a wide array of subjects, from chemistry to philosophy to graphic design. They participate at a time and place that suits their schedule. Many courses are free.

There is, however, a serious problem currently keeping online education from reaching its full potential – low retention rates. About 90 percent of enrollees in “MOOCS” – short for “Massive Open Online Courses,” which have unlimited registration and are the most popular online education product – drop out within two weeks.

The key to solving this problem? Making MOOCs more interactive. While MOOCs can never perfectly replicate the in-person back-and-forth of traditional brick-and-mortar schools, they can capitalize on modern technologies that empower students to more intimately engage with the material, their instructors, and their peers.

It’s no surprise that so few online learners finish. Few MOOC platforms include features that allow students to collaborate or ask questions in real time. Students are often expected to just click play on a lecture video, sit back, and passively learn.

They’re stuck studying alone, with no sense of belonging to a broader community. If they find a lesson especially challenging, there’s no one to boost their morale or guide them over the hump. It’s easy to lose motivation.


Online learning is transforming lives all over the world. But too many students don’t finish what they’ve started. MOOC providers need to create more engaging, interactive experiences. That’s the best way to boost completion rates – and ensure that students take full advantage of this revolutionary new way to learn.

By Satesh Bidaisee

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