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I agree with your argument up to a certain point. But one aspect of, say, OCW vs. edX is that OCW just isn't all that consumable by most people for most purposes. You can reasonably argue that OCW wasn't really intended to be consumable; it was designed more as building blocks that could be used to construct a class. The point remains though that when the topic of OCW cropped up on sites like Hacker News, the comments were filled with people writing about how they looked at OCW but it was nothing but a bunch of notes, syllabi, and so forth. (And the textbooks that formed the backbone of most classes still had to be purchased.) So OCW or OER more broadly was always going to be primarily of interest to a specialized audience as opposed to the average education consumer.
"obviously the longer a course goes on, the more people will drop out" I don't consider it THAT obvious although it's clearly the case based on the data. One could at least imagine that longer courses could be richer and offer a learning experience that better paralleled a university class. Or that some percentage of people will tend to stick with a class to completion up to some length beyond which it's just "too long." Instead the data suggests that it's more like a week-to-week thing (and makes a good case for shorter snippets--assuming that completion is a relevant metric).
Toggle Commented Dec 12, 2013 on Completion data for MOOCs at The Ed Techie
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Dec 12, 2013