Outcomes from a regional massive open online course (MOOC) are better than those from a global MOOC. The best-known MOOCs are global, such as edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn, but regional MOOCs exist. The paper compares the effectiveness of an Arab regional MOOC, called Edraak, with edX, a global MOOC founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The comparison is furthered because Edraak uses the open-source edX platform. Edraak courses are basically all in Arabic, using a right-to-left language.
The evaluated effectiveness has two components. Does the regional MOOC attract women and people with less formal education than edX? Does the regional MOOC have higher engagement, participation, and completion than edX? The general question is whether regional MOOCs narrow gender and educational gaps and better serve local populations. A comparison is made between Edraak users, edX users from Arab countries, and edX users from non-Arab countries. By all measures, Edraak did better: a more even gender balance, higher (three times) completion rates, younger participants with less formal education, and more participation in nearly all Arab states. For example, the percentage completing an Edraak course was 10.66 percent, while the percentage of participants from Arab countries completing an edX course was 3.15 percent. The worldwide completion rate was 4.85 percent. The number of participants in Edraak courses was almost five times higher than the number from Arab countries in edX.
The paper is well organized and convincing. It ends with a plea: pay more attention to regional MOOCs.