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Understanding the Self-Directed Online Learning Preferences, Goals, Achievements, and Challenges of MIT OpenCourseWare Subscribers
ARTICLE

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Journal of Educational Technology & Society Volume 18, Number 2 ISSN 1176-3647 e-ISSN 1176-3647

Abstract

This research targeted the learning preferences, goals and motivations, achievements, challenges, and possibilities for life change of self-directed online learners who subscribed to the monthly OpenCourseWare (OCW) e-newsletter from MIT. Data collection included a 25-item survey of 1,429 newsletter subscribers; 613 of whom also completed an additional 15 open-ended survey items. The 25 close-ended survey findings indicated that respondents used a wide range of devices and places to learn for their self-directed learning needs. Key motivational factors included curiosity, interest, and internal need for self-improvement. Factors leading to success or personal change included freedom to learn, resource abundance, choice, control, and fun. In terms of achievements, respondents were learning both specific skills as well as more general skills that help them advance in their careers. Science, math, and foreign language skills were the most desired by the survey respondents. The key obstacles or challenges faced were time, lack of high quality open resources, and membership or technology fees. Several brief stories of life change across different age ranges are documented. Among the chief implications is that learning something new to enhance one's life or to help others is often more important than course transcript credit or a certificate of completion.

Citation

Bonk, C.J., Lee, M.M., Kou, X., Xu, S. & Sheu, F.R. Understanding the Self-Directed Online Learning Preferences, Goals, Achievements, and Challenges of MIT OpenCourseWare Subscribers. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 18(2), 349-365. Retrieved June 30, 2022 from .

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