Determining Factors in MOOCs Completion Rates: Application Test in Energy Sustainability Courses

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are open educational activities that allow for distance learning and professional updating, although the academic community has questioned their effectiveness due to their low completion rates. This research analyzes which factors (personal, family, social, labor, and instructional design) are involved in the value expectations and engagement of the MOOCs and to what degree these affect the decision to enroll and the completion of the MOOC. To this end, in the context of 12 MOOCs on energy sustainability carried out between 2017 and 2018, 8737 participants were surveyed using two instruments designed according to theoretical constructs and expert judgment. The main results show that all the factors reviewed influence the decision to take a MOOC, although the “professional development” aspect has the most significant impact on participants who have graduated from technical and engineering careers. Additionally, this study emphasizes that the “instructional design” factor is decisive in the engagement of younger participants, showing that the conventional design of xMOOCs (Stanford Model) may be one of the most important reasons for the low completion rates of this type of course.

Incidence of Digital Competences in the Completion Rates of MOOCs: Case Study on Energy Sustainability Courses

Contribution: This article analyzes the correlation between users' digital competencies and their tendencies to successfully complete energy sustainability massive online open courses (MOOCs). In addition to reviewing whether digital competencies are a predictor of the effective completion of the course, this article analyzes whether participants acquire higher levels of digital competence through interaction in the course. Background: Completion rates of MOOCs typically range between 5% and 8%, with respect to registered participants. According to the literature, low rates may be due to factors such as students' lack of motivation or digital competence limitations. Research Questions: RQ1: Is there a correlation between the level of digital competence declared by the participants and their tendency to successfully complete the MOOC? RQ2: Does participation in a MOOC improve participants' digital competencies? Methodology: Two surveys, one pretest and one post-test (before and after the MOOCs), were applied to assess the digital competence levels of the participants. The total population of participants in the 12 MOOCs was 123 124 unique users, from which 9075 participants (pretest) - 7.37% of the universe - and 6029 participants (post-test) - 35.70% of the universe - were extracted as a sample. To determine its internal consistency, an exploratory factorial analysis was performed on both instruments and a Cronbach's alpha greater than 0.8 was obtained in all of its dimensions. Findings: A significant level of moderate to high correlation between the declared levels of digital competence and the trend toward successful completion of the MOOCs under study was observed. However, a significant increase was not demonstrated in the levels of digital competence acquired in the interaction with MOOCs. Conclusions: The level of digital competence of a participant in a MOOC was a valid predictor of their tendency to finish it. Although no increase in the levels of digital competence acquired through MOOCs was demonstrated, this may be because the subject matter of the MOOCs was alien to the indicators and dimensions of the digital competence. Further research could analyze the effectiveness of MOOCs in terms of digital competition at the acquired levels of competition.