I’m about to drop six students of the eleven who remain in the magazine-writing course.
Fifteen signed up. Of those, four have already left. These six are people who aren’t turning in assignments but haven’t bothered to drop the course. That’s a total attrition rate of 66.7%.
Only three classmates turned in the most recent assignment, so I’m afraid two more may be on their way out.
This is not atypical. One interesting (but very small) study showed that on the MBA level some 42 percent of online students dropped. The New York Times puts attrition rates as high as 90 percent in some large online courses. More credibly, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “countless” studies show success rates of around 50% in online courses, as opposed to 70% to 75% in F2F sections.
Nor is it surprising, especially in the community colleges where large numbers of students hold down full-time jobs and care for families while they try to struggle through their coursework. As the Chron‘s author pointed out three years ago, some subjects shouldn’t be presented online at all, and many students aren’t well suited for independent online study. I think it might also be said that the online environment itself is not well suited for certain kinds of study: people who use the Internet all the time quickly come to expect short bursts of information requiring brief, gestalt bursts of attention. The environment itself invites distraction. That’s inimical to sustained concentration, study, and effort.
On the one hand, for me it means almost no grading. But on the other, it would be bizarre for the college to continue offering this course, when maybe three of fifteen students make it through to the end of the semester.
And that would be too bad (for me…). I don’t make much on these little courses, but it’s a little bit. And every little bit helps.
Hope the “indie” book-publishing scheme works. It may be needed to replace the so-called income from teaching…fortunately, so little money comes from teaching that I won’t have to earn much from the books.
As we speak, a conversion dude is working on making Kindleizing a book spun off this site: Slave Labor: The New Story of American Higher Education.
As soon as he finishes that, he’ll move on to the diet/cookbook: How I Lost 30 Pounds in Four Months. Then to the first of what I expect to be a series of speculative fiction novels, Fire-Rider.
Those three books are in the can. I’ve got material residing on Funny about Money to spin off at least one book, maybe more. The puppy is a gold mine of schmaltzy stories of the sort that sell. I have two more plotlines for the Fire-Rider series and a decent idea for an entirely different series of sci-fi novels.
Additionally, I have CDs on how to improve your writing skills — things I used to sell to my upper-division students at the Great Desert University. Should be able to crank at least one e-book from that; another on how to edit your own work; and one or two more from various presentations I’ve given over the years. They say eight is the magic number for writers who want to earn a noticeable income from e-books. I expect to have that many on Amazon and waypoints by the end of 2015.
It has to be said that any day I’d rather poke along writing fun little books than spend hours laboring over student papers and other people’s Ph.D. dissertations.
Meanwhile, there’s the great mystery of why people pay good money to attend a college course and then never bother to show or even to drop.