University of Derby MOOCs ‘buck’ the trend

4 May 2015

Two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which were launched by the University of Derby have defied the trend, significantly exceeding the industry retention rate.

The average retention rate is typically 5-8% but the University of Derby’s MOOCs have surpassed this with 15.64% for 'Digital Me: Managing Your Digital Self' and 35.48% for 'Bridging the Dementia Divide', which in total attracted more than 5,000 learners from Australia and the Philippines to Aruba.

Bridging the Dementia Divide was launched in conjunction with the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) and the University's College of Health and Social Care. The MOOC was aimed at family members who were caring for someone living with dementia, health and social care professionals and anyone with an interest in dementia care. Over 3,000 learners enrolled on the course, with an engagement rate of 67.65%.

Digital Me: Managing Your Digital Self was developed with the UDOL and the University's Learning Enhancement Unit. The course was aimed at anyone wanting to improve or create a positive online reputation. More than 2,300 learners enrolled on the course with an engagement rate of 59.80%.

MOOCs are short, free courses run by major learning providers to share their knowledge of a particular academic topic or to help students develop a specific skill.


Rodney Coleman from Perth Western Australia, took part in the Bridging the Dementia Divide course, as his mother was recently diagnosed with slight on-set dementia.

Rodney said: “This course has made a difference to my understanding of dementia and has helped me to better manage the care for my mother.

“Studying online was new to me so I was a little apprehensive in the beginning, however, once I got my disciplines right, albeit, I had more time on some days than others but, I was able to manage it well. I also found the interaction online with other students very helpful.”

Munib Hadi, Head of the Academic Innovation Hub at the University of Derby, added: “MOOCs have been known for poor retention rates and we believe we have defied the trend due to our innovative and engaging learning design.

“As part of our MOOCs we followed a modular approach to make the content suitable for a wide range of learners who come from different backgrounds. This encouraged learners to study segments of our courses suited to their interests and needs. We also rewarded learners with digital badges. Over 32% of learners on Digital Me and 58% of learners on the dementia MOOC earned at least one of these digital badges.”

Julie Stone, Director of UDOL, said: "MOOCs have been the topic of conversation for some time now and retention rate has been one of the significant problems. We have by far exceeded the industry average, which we believe is due to our expertise in online learning and our pedagogic approach.”

The courses were launched in July 2015 and were developed by the University's Academic Innovation Hub, supported by UDOL.

The University of Derby will be introducing more MOOCs in 2016. For more information, and if you would like to express your interest for one of our courses, please go to: