It seems like everyone’s taking an e-course these days. But according to recent studies, only a tiny fraction of them are actually finishing their courses. These eLearning dropout rates illustrate some hard truths about training.

eLearning Dropout Rates

The attrition rates for e-courses are like nothing we’ve ever seen in classroom learning. A study by Warwick University, in the UK, found MOOC completion rates as low as 7% and never higher than 59%. By comparison, New York City’s public schools have a completion rate of 70%*. A similar study conducted by ResearchGate found a 6% completion rate across eLearning platforms. That’s a 94% dropout rate.

Experts have weighed in on the reasons for these numbers, citing everything from busy students to poor content and even browser compatibility issues. The good news is, we can remedy many of these problems, and the statistics show marked improvement in completion rates when trainers implement new strategies.

Mandatory Vs. Relevant

I can’t tell you the best reason to take a course but “because it’s mandatory” is definitely the worst reason. A powerful alternative to ‘mandatory’ is ‘relevant.’ As we discussed in an earlier post, relevance is a major factor in adult learning. We need to know why we’re learning. We need to see the application in our lives. In one study of MOOCs, the most popular course was a masterclass in coding, offered by a Swiss university. And the least popular course: Princeton’s History of the World since 1300 with a completion rate of just 0.8%.

Respect Learning Time and Learning Spaces

Successful corporate trainers create a culture of respect around training. There are many ways to do this. Some offices have a dedicated training lab where employees can work undisturbed. If you have the resources to do this, great. But respecting the training process could be as simple as exempting your team from normal tasks during training hours. One expert recommends putting up ‘do not disturb’ signs.

Accountability is Just a Click Away

Sun Microsystems increased their training completion rates from 50% to 75% simply by giving trainees their instructor’s contact info. This factor has proven vital at the level of higher education as well. UCLA’s online campus boasts completion rates as high as 89%** one instructor credits the University’s interaction with students as key to their success online, “You can have best course out there,” he says, “but if you don’t have instructors working with students, people will drop out.”

School Should Be Social

A classic argument against homeschooling is that it denies the child a chance to interact with other kids. It turns out, training adults isn’t all that different. We need the social component. It’s what makes coming to class bearable on a day when we don’t want to. Unfortunately, online learning can be an isolating experience. Group projects can address this, and so can live classes and chat features.

Re-Think Competition

Completion rate is an important metric to judge the effectiveness of training but it’s a mistake to act like this is the finish line. People can complete courses without transferring that knowledge back to the job. A major advantage of eLearning is that it allows students to set their own pace and personalize the curriculum so this transference is somewhat individualized for different learners.

*Source: The New York Times

* *Source: Workforce.