Even as they grow in popularity, massive open online courses prompt debates about their impact on students, business model and role in the future of education.
MOOCs, by definition, are free and open to all comers. A single course may include high schoolers, retirees, faculty, enrolled students and working professionals. Designing a course for this diverse student population is a challenge, as is making these courses "sticky" to the end. It comes as no surprise that while initial registrations for a MOOC can be enormous -- tens of thousands of sign-ups are common -- they tend to have much lower completion rates (typically in the high single digits) than credit-bearing, paid courses for enrolled college students.