If It Were Up to Millennials, Would MOOCs Replace College Entirely?

The results of a new study by QuestionPro Research suggests that Millennials feel pretty good about MOOCs. In fact, a large majority think that MOOCs could replace some types of education entirely.

Before getting into the results, I’ll just qualify them by saying that it’s unclear exactly who the roughly 400 people who completed the survey were or how the survey was conducted. And some of the questions had fairly low response rates. Nevertheless, there may still be some insights into what education might look like in the future.

Here we go:

•  Of the sample, only about one-third overall had heard of MOOCs, but nearly three-quarters of Millennials were familiar with the courses.

•  The most common reason Millennials cited for taking MOOCs was to “prepare for a career,” while most other age groups said they were taking the courses “just for fun.”

•  Around eight out of 10 respondents agreed with each of the following descriptions of MOOCs: “accessible to everyone,” better experience than in a classroom, “increases my knowledge,” “high quality of education,” and “makes me employable.”

•  About 70% of respondents agreed that standard high school, undergraduate, graduate, and trade school education could be replaced by MOOCs within five years. More Millennials believed this to be true than did older respondents.

•  Only 15% of those surveyed thought online education was not very effective or not equivalent to classroom learning. The other 85% were positive or neutral about the issue.

The results are highly preliminary, due to the small and unclear sample population. However, they may signal that ideas about online education and MOOCs are coming to a tipping point. For another good read, check out Jeffrey Selingo’s commentary in today’s Chronicle: MOOC U: The revolution isn’t over.

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