This question is not directly related to Mathematics.However, I am hoping to find some guidance from educators here. Some faculty members are required to perform service to the community. Providing free education that improve societal value is one of the many ways to deliver the service. However, we recently are faced with a difficult situation in this channel, and I hope faculty here who had experience in teaching outside the school or social science researchers working in underprivileged groups will be able to point us to the right direction.

We are a small group of software developers and teachers who give free computer lessons to pretty much anyone who is interested. So far we have taught 32 students and they are all working as programmers in various places. However the dropout rate has been 8 to 1 so far. But lately the big problem is finding new students.

We don't charge money, there are no contracts to sign and we even provide required software and books free of charge. Sometimes we even supply the computers. The classes are online last about a hour a day. Still, even with sharing success stories and having former students themselves talk to new students, we are finding it hard to find new students who would be interested in taking the classes. I personally know people who would rather complain about the unfairness of life than take a job working as a paid intern somewhere.

My question is: What can we do to make free learning more appealing to people who are not in a school environment?

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    $\begingroup$ This question appears to be off-topic because it is not particularly about mathematics education, and not a question that mathematics educators would be especially good at answering. $\endgroup$
    – user173
    Jun 18 '14 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ What you really need to do is build up a learning community; though your question is off-topic here, maybe you can find some of the sources in an earlier answer of mine to be helpful: matheducators.stackexchange.com/a/842/262 $\endgroup$ Jun 18 '14 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ @BenjaminDickman the pointers in your answer did help. Thank you... $\endgroup$
    – w2olves
    Jun 18 '14 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ I threw up an answer at the academia.stackexchange version of this question. Like @BenjaminDickman, I think an online course will be less successful than a learning community. academia.stackexchange.com/a/23647/13729 $\endgroup$
    – Adrienne
    Jun 19 '14 at 2:31