The reality is that people don’t want to learn. They need to be forced or manipulated into learning. Our higher education does this through a societal funnel. Essentially, children are guilted into going to college. Obviously, this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people naturally love learning. But, most people don’t.
The dirty secret of online learning is that the churn rate is extremely high. I could theorize a number of reasons why, but situations like these call for Occam’s razor. The content sucks and isn’t designed for engaged learning. When I say the content sucks, I don’t mean it’s not informative. It usually is very informative. The content sucks because it’s not engaging. Universities are plenty smart enough to realize that online learning needs to be more engaging. The problem is that they don’t care. They are “trying” and that’s good enough for them.
Companies like Duolingo are actually trying. They understand what needs to be done to encourage learning. They use gamification, they channel competition. Duolingo tricked me into learning Spanish for 787 days. It might take awhile, but eventually the companies that are trying to make online education work will overcome the universities.
I don’t have a lot of faith in society creating social pressure to encourage online learning, but I do have faith in innovation. We just need to overcome the stagnant universities. It’s just a matter of time.