Study: MOOCs may put workers from underdeveloped countries at a disadvantage

Dive Brief:

  • Completion rates for massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been historically low for students in underdeveloped nations, stemming from a number of regional and cultural factors — not due to the skills or abilities of learners, Chief Learning Officer reports.
  • A study by a team of Stanford University researchers shows that students from underdeveloped countries face language and socio-psychological barriers that hinder achievement. Students from developed nations are twice as likely to complete a MOOC to earn a certificate than those in underdeveloped nations, where students struggle with low levels of prior education, language barriers and other challenges.
  • Kizilcec advised that this 'social identity threat' prevents students from learning and performing well on the job. So far, 50 MOOCs offered by Harvard, Stanford and MIT have been audited to improve the subjective experience of learners and help improve completion rates. 

Dive Insight:

The study above highlights a very important factor that all organizations should be mindful of when creating corporate training content. Learning is not about ability to learn; it's about the ability of instructional designers to create learning that honors the experience of all students.

Diversity has to be considered in the language and cultural references of a particular training session, given the differences between educational systems around the world. With the increasing augmentation of internal training initiatives with MOOCs, companies need to be able to evaluate the usefulness of these resources not based solely on certificates to be earned or completion rates, but also on the very content itself.

Failure to use learning content that respects the diverse background of all employees can result in less than favorable performance and information retention at work.

Follow on Twitter

Filed Under: Learning
Top image credit: sqback, stock.xchng