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Why most self-paced courses fail

In the last years, online education only keeps growing, but the truth is that most of the online courses (especially if self paced) fail.

One of the main reasons is the lack of engagement and accountability mechanisms. Studies show that completion rates for online self-paced courses hover around 5% to 15%, significantly lower than traditional courses. A study by HarvardX and MITx revealed that only about 5.5% of students completed their courses, with dropout rates as high as 90%. Additionally, the absence of peer interaction and instructor guidance contributes to feelings of isolation and disconnection, reducing motivation and commitment to course completion.

Why is the completion rate of self-paced courses so low?

The completion rates of self-paced courses often remain low due to several key factors.

  • The lack of structure inherent in these courses can lead to disorganization among learners. Without set schedules or deadlines, many students struggle to maintain consistent progress, often resulting in unfinished coursework.
  • Isolation plays a significant role in the low completion rates. Self paced courses lack social interaction and collaborative learning opportunities, which is a dynamic that can improve significantlty the motivation of learners. The absence of peer discussions and group activities diminishes engagement, making it easier for learners to disengage.
  • The limited feedback available in self-paced courses presents a significant challenge. Effective learning often requires timely guidance and support from instructors or experts. However, without readily available assistance, learners may encounter difficulties or questions that go unanswered, impeding their progress and leading to frustration.
  • No real-time interaction: in a world that is becoming more and more “remote” having the opportunity to collaborate on  problem-solving is key.


Why our online bootcamps are different

Our online bootcamps offer the exact same experience as our in-person bootcamps. Our students get:

– A structured curriculum and a proven methodology trusted by over 25,000 alumni

– A community of like-minded people: you are just one slack away from thousands of tech enthusiasts and career changers

– All the support you need from our teaching team: even if you study part-time, you will get 24/7 teaching support!

– A hands-on and practice-first course! Collaboration is at the core of our teaching methodology!

Why our alumni prefer an online bootcamp

It is very common to start learning new skills independently, on a self paced course. However, the more students we graduate, the more we realize that this model tends to fail and that are alumni value:

  • Following a structured course designed by experts
  • A learning methodology that is focused on practice vs theory
  • Having a support system and a community

Here is what Seb, web development alumni has to say about why he decided to study an online bootcamp:

“Learning web development on your own with no prior knowledge is daunting. There are so many languages and frameworks to pick up that I didn’t even know where to start. On top of that, it’s difficult to stay consistent when you’re only working to self-imposed deadlines. These are the two main reasons I decided to go down the bootcamp route, so I’d have a clear learning path to follow and deadlines to meet, which meant I had to stay consistent with my learning.

Before the Web Development bootcamp I didn’t think learning with a community was important, but during my time at Le Wagon, I realised how vital community is to a career change. Learning web development is difficult and some of the concepts are abstract, which can be frustrating. Having teachers who have been through the process, giving advice and explaining concepts to you is extremely important. On top of that, having other students to talk to about your struggles with makes you realise that everyone is going through the same thing; it’s not just you.

The community also makes the job search after Le Wagon a much easier process.”

Seb, now Junior Software Developer 

You can find out more on why our alumni chose an online bootcamp instead of self learning on this blog article.

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