As hyped as MOOCs may be, according to recent stats (see TIME magazine) fewer than 10 percent of people actually finish their massive open online course, a massive problem says Pavel Dmitriev, co-founder of Coursmos, a recently launched education startup and creator of an an iOS app aiming to vanquish that problem. Students using Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, and any one of a number of MOOC platforms are the target. A lot of hype surrounding the prospects and repercussions of widespread MOOC adoption may have been nice, but these predictions seem unwarranted when so few people actually complete the courses they sign up for, according to Pavel. Coursmos aims to solve this problem by redefining what online education looks like. It’ll also launch on Android and as a web app soon.
MASSIVE open online courses, or MOOCs, offered by universities have the potential to shake up education. People yearn to learn, but many enroll on MOOC courses only to flunk out after a few lessons. MOOCs are ill-suited to their medium: they are long and lack interaction. That is why less formal alternatives are doing well. TED Talks have thrived. The video lectures, less than 20 minutes long and given by sharp suited penseurs, are devoured by a large audience keen to learn superficial facts about their world (Malcolm Gladwell, the pop science author recently savaged in our paper edition, is a star in the TED firmament). On the average commuter train, chances are that the young man in the flannel shirt and ankle boots peering at his iPhone is plugged into the latest TED Talk.
Online learning courses have notoriously low completion rates. An informal study by Ph.D. candidate Katy Jordan found that average completion for massive open online courses, commonly known as MOOCs, is about 7%. While MOOCs have been touted as a catalyst for change in higher education in particular, the coming revolution may have been overstated with completion rates this low.
“When you’re pitching Dave McClure— or any other seed investor — you have to start with any kind of traction.”
These days, it seems like people barely have time to write a proper email, (and don’t even think about handwritten letters), much less sit through hours and weeks of a class, even if it’s online. But the rise of MOOCs and startups like Khan Academy are bringing education to the masses in more convenient means than ever, at little or no cost to the student.
And now, Russian startup Coursmos is breaking down that concept into even more consumable chunks, through its micro-lesson e-learning iOS app.