Students’ demographics and behaviour in a series of Australian massive open online courses (MOOCS)


  • Paul J. Francis Australian National University


I investigate the demographics and behavior of students in a series of four Astrophysics Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered in 2014-15 by the *** University, via the *** Consortium. 60,000 students enrolled in one or more of the courses. These students came from 175 countries: only 6% came from within Australia and less than half had heard of *** University before enrolling. MOOCs are thus an effective way to increase awareness of Australian universities amongst populations where such awareness is extremely low. Only 30% of those who enrolled in the first course ever logged in, and only 10% passed the first homework. Amongst those who passed the first homework, however, 750% would go on to pass the course. Students in the age range 20-30 years were particularly likely to enroll in the course but never log in. The students found the MOOCs to be an effective educational experience: 87% said that they learned as much or more from these MOOCs as they had from on-campus courses. They particularly praised the ability to pause and re-wind the short videos used in the course.