Center for Digital Education & Converge: research in education technology for K-12 and higher education

Do Large Online Classes Actually Reach the Uneducated?

on November 27, 2013

Answer: Not usually

Most students who take a massive open online course (MOOC) already have university degrees, according to a study by University of Pennsylvania researchers that was reported on The online survey included more than 400,000 people from 201 countries who took university courses on the Coursera platform.

Overall, 83 percent of course takers already had higher education degrees, according to the study published in the scholarly journal Nature. And more than 40 percent of them had advanced degrees.

Interestingly enough, 80 percent of the students from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa had previously earned college degrees, while about six percent of their fellow countrymen had degrees. So the researchers concluded that these online course takers are generally wealthy and well-educated.

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