HarvardX and MITx: Two Years of Open Online Courses Fall 2012-Summer 2014
37 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2015 Last revised: 1 Apr 2015
Date Written: March 30, 2015
What happens when well-known universities offer online courses, assessments, and certificates of completion for free? Early descriptions of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have emphasized large enrollments, low certification rates, and highly educated registrants. We use data from two years and 68 open online courses offered by Harvard University (via HarvardX) and MIT (via MITx) to broaden the scope of answers to this question. We describe trends over this two-year span, depict participant intent using comprehensive survey instruments, and chart course participation pathways using network analysis. We find that overall participation in our MOOCs remains substantial and that the average growth has been steady. We explore how diverse audiences — including explorers, teachers-as-learners, and residential students — provide opportunities to advance the principles on which HarvardX and MITx were founded: access, research, and residential education.
Keywords: MOOC, massive open online course, HarvardX, MITx, edX, online learning, distance education, higher education, residential learning
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