Why do online courses from top universities like MIT and Harvard fail?

Why do online courses from top universities like MIT and Harvard fail?Not everyone can get through big universities like MIT, Harvard, Columbia.. But everyone can easily take up an online course designed and taught by the very professors of these mighty universities-And for free. Yet, usually, only 2% of the total enrolled learners actually go on to complete a course. Here’s why.

Lack of Motivation

Absence of face-to-face teaching is a big dampener for learners and despite flexibility, learners find it difficult to manage their time to complete a lecture, which is why an online course can leave learners uninterested after a couple of sessions.


Online courses are driven only by the drive that the learner has in order to learn and complete the course. Therefore it need much more disciple(than traditional learning method) on the learner’s part to go through with the course.


Group Oriented Education

We are still used to studying in a group, as there hasn’t been much change in how our classrooms have functioned. Therefore learning on your own can be difficult to adopt for many, specially with no interaction with the teacher.

Accents/ Dialects

Many a times, learners also find it difficult to understand a particular accent, which can be very challenging in one-way online courses and makes it very difficult for learners to complete the course.

Looking at the issue/opportunity, NIIT is looking to club it’s on-ground student servicing infrastructure with massive online open courses(MOOC) provided by top universities in order to create a blended learning model that will ensure both enrolment and completion of the courses.

How will these work? These models will have a teacher present in a classroom or online, to help you understand the already available online courses-Basically teaching you an online course, the traditional way! NIIT is looking to start the edX-blended courses this year itself where students will be charged Rs. 10,000 and upwards for a 3-month course. And of course, the learners will have to pay anything between $50 to $100 to take the test with the university in order to complete the course.

However, online certification players like Simplilearn, Udacity see a much higher completion rate than the industry average. With the help of in-house innovative tech methodology, Simplilearn has a 72% course completion rate for their self developed online courses.

IT industry body Nasscomm envisages a massive re-skilling program to train and re-skill 4-5mn people over the next 10 years. Needless to say this task cannot be taken up by traditional training models alone. Reason why there has been a lot of interest and innovation around the online learning methods. So go ahead pick a university online and do a course the traditional way(well almost!).

(Image source: aacei)