Qualtrics and Instructure Partner To Reveal Top Motivations for MOOC Students

SALT LAKE CITY, July 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Instructure, an education technology provider, and Qualtrics, an insight technology provider, today announced the results of a new research study on the motivations of massive open online course (MOOC) participants. The primary motivators for people to both enroll in and complete MOOCs are the course topic and quality of the learning experience, according to a Qualtrics survey of 1,834 students in Instructure's Canvas Network MOOC index.

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The study found that course topic is the main motivator for enrollment among 35 percent of MOOC participants, followed by personal or professional development (24 percent) and the fact that MOOCs are free (16 percent). Among those who didn't complete, 29 percent said the main reason was the learning experience didn't match their expectations, and the same number said they were too busy to finish.

"This study confirms that for MOOCs to be a relevant part of education's future, they must offer a more compelling experience than the traditional college course," said Misty Frost, chief marketing officer at Instructure. "The popularity of MOOCs shows an appetite for learning in the open online format, but these courses are competing for attention in an age of digital entertainment and social media. Simply replicating the lecture model of instruction in a MOOC doesn't facilitate the educational experience needed to sustain engagement."

While not a major motivation at time of enrollment, the study did find that credentials or college credit could increase MOOC completion rates. About two-thirds of respondents indicated that they would be more likely to complete if MOOCs offered certificates or transferable college credit. About 10 percent who didn't complete noted lack of incentive as the main reason.

The study is the first MOOC research commissioned by two companies with education at the heart of their businesses. Instructure provides learning management and MOOC solutions to more than 425 colleges, universities and K-12 districts, and Qualtrics' research platform is used by 1,300 colleges and universities, including 95 of the top 100 business schools.

"Until now, research on MOOCs has been limited to asking faculty and administrators what they think about open online learning, but little has been done to explore what students are thinking," said Danielle Wanderer, head of marketing at Qualtrics. "This study was an effort to move beyond anecdotes and speculation to get some real insights about what attracts students to MOOCs and what it takes to keep them engaged."

Surprisingly, MOOCs are converting fence sitters into active participants during the course.  About 72 percent of participants reported engaging in course discussions, compared to only 60 percent who expected to do so at the outset.

The study also suggests that engagement with other students in course discussions is particularly important in the virtual environment. About 24 percent of those who completed their courses reported being highly engaged in course discussions with fellow participants, compared to only 3 percent of those who failed to complete.

Other key findings include:

  • Demographic profile: MOOC participants are highly educated, with about 77 percent holding a bachelor's degree or higher, a dynamic likely influenced by the fact that 42 percent of participants are educators.
  • The role of free: About 75 percent listed the fact that MOOCs are free as a primary factor in enrolling, a figure perhaps bolstered by two-thirds of participants earning less that $50,000 annually.
  • MOOC veterans: About one-third of participants have taken MOOCs on multiple platforms, with about 75 percent of these repeaters reporting that their MOOC experience was successful.



This survey polled 1,834 people who registered to take a MOOC on Instructure's Canvas Network during May and June 2013. This included 696 who had just enrolled and 1,138 who had completed MOOC courses. The survey was created and administered with Qualtrics Research Suite.

About Instructure:

Instructure is a technology company committed to improving education. We provide instructors and students with modern tools and resources that empower and simplify the learning experience. Instructure offers Canvas, the open, easy-to-use, cloud-native learning management system, as well as Canvas Network, an index of open, online courses by educators everywhere — from Ivy League institutions to community colleges.

About Qualtrics:

Qualtrics, an insight software company, helps organizations be right. Qualtrics' survey-based platform makes it easy to gain enterprise-wide understanding of the customer and employee mindset, driving better decisions throughout an organization. Enterprises, leading academic institutions, research firms and insight seekers all rely on the Qualtrics platform for market research, academic research, voice of the customers, customer satisfaction, and employee performance feedback. Founded in 2002, Qualtrics has more than 5,000 clients worldwide, including half of the Fortune 100, more than 1,300 colleges and universities, and 95 of the top 100 business schools. For more information and a free trial, visit www.qualtrics.com.

Matt Reichman, Method Communications
(801) 461-9778 | [email protected]

SOURCE Instructure; Qualtrics