Studying Online: Coursera

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  1951 Words
Date:  2021-05-19

Coursera was founded in April 2012 by Ng and Koller who maintained their position at Stanford University in order to start their company. By the seventh month of 2013, the company had managed to raise over $22 million from venture capitalist firms and individuals in the Silicon Valley. The mission of the company is to provide access to quality education for people who are unable to access the universities due to circumstances that are known best to them. Online courses have become a common thing in this day and age as the online course business is valued at $107 billion. The need to maintain the students under the program astute and always on an increasing learning curve, there is a need for the use of motivation and incentives in order to boost their interest in finishing up the program (Koller, Chen, & Ng, 2013).

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The proponents of the implementation of MOOCs, include the following, financial considerations, it is cheaper to learn online as opposed to travelling all the way to the university to have a class room lecture. The low marginal cost of MOOCs and the aspect of reaching a wide population of individuals, giving a lecturer a massive number of people to reach and educate as opposed to a normal class room setting. In recent cases, Coursera has been facing a challenge of having terrible completion rates among students on the online courses. It is important to consider that this problem is a cross platforms challenge that calls for the development of new mechanisms that can be used in developing interest among student in order to increase their interest in finishing up their online courses. Massive Open Online Course offer courses from different fields all together on their online platforms, the challenge is the participants opting out before they finish up their studies. The have recorded 2% to 10% completion rates in many of their courses and this has proved to be very detrimental to the progress of the online platform (Dean, 2016).

There is a need to develop novel ways that is going to keep the students focused as many of them have the feeling of being alone hence contributing to the low performance and completion rates in many online courses. Coursera has faced this challenge for a while now, but there need to be strategies that can be used to increase motivation and kick start the importance of their online course to peoples minds.

Taking an outlook at Coursera, the organization has integrated the use of video lecture, quizzes automatic assessment grading, and it has the ability to handle high volumes of traffic. The basic foundation of the program is to offer the client relevant information in regards to the courses they are studying. In the core, companies like Coursera, Udacity, and Edx strive to increase the access to quality education to individuals across the world through an online platform that can be accessed globally (Mucherah & Yoder, 2008). The main advantage of the online platform is that the courses can be developed and translated into different languages hence helping out students understand the coursework no matter your background.

From a business perspectives, MOOCs seek to increase their revenues through increased student enrollment, high student activity, signup for advanced or enterprise packages and having more tutors which mean more avenues of cash flow. The recent past has indicated a detrimental trend in the progression of online course, many students have been unable to complete their studies and many ends up forgetting about the courses they signed up for (Jiang, Williams, Warschauer, He, & O'Dowd, 2014). This trend is of negative effects to many MOOCs; there is a need for intervention mechanism to be put in place in order to avoid a scenario where online course companies become obsolete, and no one is investing in the field no more.

Problem Statement

In the year 2012, Coursera enrolled over 40,000 to 60,000 students to their online platform while only 50 to 60 percent came back for their first class. Another challenge was the handover of assignments for grading; Coursera has had a challenged as only 15 to 20% of student handed over their assignments. Out of the first group, only 45 % of the students finished up the course while out of them only 5% passed successfully (Dean, 2016).

In this paper, we are going to tackle the need to increase retention and maintaining the student focus on the program until the project is finished up. There is a need to emphasize on retention based on monetary survival of the company but for the sake of the learners original intent. One should understand what was the learners original intention upon signing up for the online course, what motivated them into enrolling into the program, what future aspiration do they have, all these are necessary in enabling the learner to maintain their focus and in the long run it would increase the retention rates and hence the increase of completion rates.

Knowing the Learners Intent

The admission into a campus for any student is targeted towards the achievement of the course requirements and the attainment of credentials. In many cases the intention of the achievement of a credential is still a key motivating factor in MOOCs. When the student has not received the targeted goal, it is either the system has failed, the student has failed, or both student and the system are faulty in a way. The same applies to MOOCs, if the student who signs up do not end up finishing the course and receiving a certificate as an award then it is either there is something wrong with the platform, the lecturers, timeframes of classes, the flexibility of tutors or even the students themselves. It is important to do a cross check of every possible factor that may contribute to lowering the student's completion rates in MOOCs (Jiang, Williams, Warschauer, He, & O'Dowd, 2014).

Understanding that there are no barriers of entry and the free course options, it is possible for individuals to opt out of online classes as it did not cost them anything upon signup into the program. It is valid to say that most students have no obligation to the organization in the case they decide to opt out of the classes they enrolled to. This begs the question of why did they sign up in the first place, understanding that the students had an initial motivation towards enrolling to a certain course then there is need to resuscitate the initial motivation. It is important to learn through observation of students participation in the classes; this is based on their aptitude in class and their willingness to partake in assignment and submitting them back for evaluation.

The categorization of students into groups based on active participation should be a technique that is important to analyses which groups needs to be motivated and reminded of the earlier agenda they had for their lives. Passive, Active groups clearly describe the types of students. The passive group can be motivated to comeback to active learning through the use of reminders and incentives that can help them see the need for pursing their goals and avoiding loss of sight of the primary objective.

Effects of Rewards in Reading Incentives

Based on the research by Brynn Beavers on the effects of rewards in reading incentive programs on student motivation and participation among middle school children, one learns that even adults need to be motivated. MOOCs participant have to be motivated to take up the challenge of studying and completing their courses on the platforms. Coursera, Udacity, and EDx are not exempted out of this; these platforms have a high influx of students but in the long run, the number of students completing the courses successfully are quite few. It is imperative to acknowledge that there is a gap that needs to be evaluated and filled with the right tools in order to improve the completion rates in most of these online classes.

The use of extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards aides in increasing the motivation to take up more classes. The introduction of a rewards system upon completion of a given unit or a number of weeks in the program would clearly aide in improving the participants aptitude to take part in more classes. The manner of rewards programs can vary from the earning point, certificate of participation, scholarships and recommendations to better institutions of learning can be key motivating factors that would increase the participation of many individuals in the program. It is important to make an assessment of the changes in trends in student participation, retention rates, and completion rates upon the introduction of an incentive or a rewards system in the online course. In the long run, the effects can be tabulated and evaluated; this would help in figuring out which reward system best suits the platform. Knowing the best reward system to be used would help the designers of the platform to focus more on the development of that special program in order to take full advantage of the leads it offers.

It is vital also to be aware of the negative ramifications of a rewards program, in many cases, students might think that a course is not good enough to be tackled on its own without a reward. In the implantation of a reward system, the value of seeking out knowledge gain becomes tainted; individuals end up feeling that they are pushed towards the attainment of the course objectives. Motivation should not be a force of dissuading individuals from following up on their earlier set goals, but should be used to push them towards the achievement of the same. A good rewards system should be one that seeks out to motivate other than to dissuade; it is critical that the reward system strikes a balance in meeting the objectives of the organization and that of the student in the curriculum.

Gamification is another aspect that seeks out to be used as suggested by many experts as a tool necessary to improve student participation in learning. Gamification seeks out to strike a balance between active gaming and learning. Students are perceived to be motivated by challenges, games promote participation, persistence and a sense of a nearby achievement. Research on games indicates that the activity should first be fun, should have flow and a sense of achievement. Gamification of study content is a highly debatable topic in many MOOCs fora. The proponents of the idea see it as an opportunity to develop a carefully crafted program that would see participants competing against each other not on the basis of mastery like in normal academic setting but in a fun and genius way (Deeds, 2015). Designers of a gamified learning platform should be careful on the design of the platform as the poor design may lead to negative ramifications.

The introduction of motivation and incentive programs into MOOCs means that there is critical need for students to make aware of the importance of their undertakings and the need to complete the program. Though in some other platforms students are not charged upon registration and during course work it is still important that they are reminded on the main objective of engaging in the program. The use of motivation and incentives as a tool to aide in maintain the student focus and increasing completion rates would prove to be important. The trick is to develop a well and carefully crafted incentive program that would help avoid the negative ramifications of a reward system. Motivation is important in every aspect of a human beings life, and it is important that individuals are brought back to the course to meet the earlier set objectives.


Dean, T. (2016). How to increase online course completion rates - RockStar Empires. RockStar Empires. Retrieved 14 September 20...

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Studying Online: Coursera. (2021, May 19). Retrieved from

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