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The polemic around MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) has largely died down as metrics replace opinions. The good news is there’s no dearth of opportunities to measure the efficacy of MOOCs as they multiply across the educational landscape, offered by everyone from private institutions to businesses such as SAP. With students and instructors headed back to school this fall, I thought it made sense to see what students themselves have to say. SAP recently conducted a survey of the 370,000 people who have participated in the company’s MOOCs on the openSAP platform since the program’s inception about a year ago, and the findings are illuminating.

Admittedly, SAP’s IT-focused curriculum represents ideal conditions for online learning to flourish, comprised of laser-focused topics relevant to participants, hands-on expert instructors, and highly motivated students at ease in virtual environments. Survey respondents, hailed from countries around the world with the biggest slice in Europe (49 percent) followed by Asia (25 percent), North America (16 percent), South America (5 percent), and Africa (3 percent). Most were developers and consultants (respectively, 35 percent and 32 percent), while the balance consisted of experts in support, services, education, sales, and line of business.

A whopping 76 percent of these participants completed all of the course content, a huge number in the world of MOOCs. Attrition is a major issue across courses held at institutions of higher learning, as I’ve written before.

It’s no big surprise that flexibility was the most-valued feature of these courses. After all, an accessible education is why more students are flocking to their own computer screens to learn. But to capture and hold participant attention, online learning has to be a breeze to use. According to these surveyed respondents, SAP’s MOOCs appear to have met the challenge:

  • 80 percent found the platform “easy to use”
  • 75 percent agreed “the course material is well-structured”
  • 75 percent “like the format of the openSAP video lectures”
  • 74 percent “like the delivery style”

New this fall are a crop of courses focused on application development and user experience (UX), offering developers a deep dive into SAP Fiori and the SAP HANA Platform. Also greeting participants this fall are a number of improvements designed to boost engagement. Participants can subscribe to discussions and receive notifications of new content. They will also be able to rate discussion forums, and will receive a personalized “My courses” overview of sessions they have enrolled in.

“MOOCs have become an ongoing learning process for SAP along with the people participating in these sessions. We’re finding the more we can provide an easy-to-use experience for students, the richer their experience will be, leading to even higher completion rates,” says Michaela Laemmler, Dean of openSAP University.

MOOCs are finding an appropriate place in education, whether delivered by schools or businesses. At the end of the day, it’s up to students to evaluate how they can learn best.

Follow me @smgaler

Related posts:

How MOOCS are Disrupting Education

Share Economy Comes to Education: Notes from the MOOCs Experiment

Students Issue Report Card on MOOCs