Is completion necessary for MOOC participants?

openbadgeoldsmooc3I really am not sure that it matters that a lot of the participants in MOOCs do not officially “complete”. Yet a lot of the furore around MOOCs centres on the fact that only a small proportion of the students actually complete the course. I’d like to argue that it isn’t necessary for students to complete the MOOC to get something out of it.

Legitimate peripheral participation (lurking!) is a phenomenon that has been studied in traditional online courses and communities and is particularly relevant in MOOCs. Someone like myself may well join a MOOC and take from it what I need and have time to get, and be perfectly satisfied with the learning I have achieved, yet perhaps not have completed very many assessment activities or indeed any at all.

Sheila Macneill’s posted an interesting blog entry on thoughts on succeeding in MOOCs (in fact she has several interesting posts on the subject).

But if completion isn’t necessary to be a success how do we measure success? And how do we provide learning opportunities for, and support (particularly in our NOOC if there is Advantage Award credit for some, and no credit for others) the learners who are there strategically or intermittently or barely at all, as well as those who are aiming for much more participation? Do we encourage all students to participate more?

From Sheila’s post: “Suzanne Hardy told us how “empowered” she felt by not submitting a final digital artefact for assessment. I suspect she was not alone”. I’ve felt that myself in an American MOOC where we were exhorted to submit on time but not to learn… I might have done the assignments for fun but doing quizzes under pressure – no, that’s not what my aims for the MOOC experience were about. (I also downloaded and read the video transcripts rather than watching them but that’s another story!)

What do you think?