ICTs readiness among MOOC learners : a cross-national analysis
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) attract the attention of educators who desire to extend higher education to learners around the globe. MOOCs also interest learners with Internet access who can benefit from them and enroll at no cost. However, research indicates the importance of learners’ readiness for online learning in order to take advantage of these courses and the importance of investigating factors that influence learners’ satisfaction with MOOCs. In order to examine these aspects, two different types of surveys were conducted. Framed by the second-level digital divide approach and resources and appropriation theory, this study surveyed MOOC learners to investigate their readiness for online learning. It measured learners’ levels of engagement with information and communications technologies (ICTs) and learners’ characteristics (self-efficacy and locus of control). The study analyzed one source of data collected from surveying 2,882 learners who were enrolled in any of five MOOCs that were offered in either English or Arabic and through two MOOC providers based in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The findings identified significant differences among learners who live in various regions or countries with different economic classifications. For example, MOOC learners who live in either North America or developed economies have significantly higher levels of engagement with ICTs, self-efficacy, and locus of control than learners who live in Arab States or developing economies respectively. In several regions, such as North America and Asia and the Pacific, male MOOC learners have significantly higher levels of engagement with ICTs than females. Additionally, based on the theory of independent learning and teaching, the three types of interaction model, and the technology acceptance model, this study investigated factors that influence learners’ satisfaction with MOOCs. It also examined effects of age and level of education of MOOC learners on their perceptions concerning the importance of five course aspects. Another survey asked 1,762 learners who were enrolled in any of four MOOCs. The results showed that the learner perceived usefulness, teaching and learning aspects of the MOOC, and learner-content interaction as important satisfaction factors. The results revealed that both age and level of education have significant effects only on the importance of three course aspects. Future directions in MOOCs research are discussed.