Reasons for non-completion of a massive open online course about multiple sclerosis: A mixed methods study

Published:August 06, 2022DOI:


      • Most commonly, people report not completing an online course about MS because they have limited time avai.
      • People living with MS also report MS-related symptoms as a reason that they did not complete.
      • Accessibility and time burden should be major considerations when designing educational resources for the MS community.



      Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have grown rapidly in popularity since becoming available worldwide in 2012. There are currently > 30,000 MOOCs available from > 900 universities. However, despite their global reach, MOOCs typically have low completion rates.


      To evaluate reasons for non-completion among enrolees in the Understanding Multiple Sclerosis (MS) MOOC.


      This was a mixed methods study evaluating quantitative and qualitative data collected in an online questionnaire administered to Understanding MS enrolees who did not complete the course. The quantitative data was evaluated using frequencies, percentages, means, and standard deviations. The qualitative data was assessed using textual analysis.


      We recruited 397 participants (4.5% of non-completers). Both the qualitative and quantitative data suggests that the primary reasons for non-completion were time constraints and/or limitations. Some of these were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. People with MS also cited MS-related symptoms as a reason for non-completion. Suggested changes to the course reflected these results and included extending the course open period and making it self-paced.


      Although it was impossible to determine if study participants were representative of all non-completers due to selection bias, the results provide useful information for developing future MS educational resources. Accessibility, particularly addressing potential challenges related to MS symptoms and time constraints, should be a primary consideration when developing an educational resource for the MS community.
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