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EdX: The First Year Working Papers Released

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Researchers from Harvard and MIT have sifted through data from 17 edX courses to produce a series of working papers on the first year of open online courses. The papers cover courses from Fall 2012 to Summer 2013.

A post on the edX blog summarizes the working papers and provides interactive visualizations of the data.

The primary paper, Working Paper #1: HarvardX and MITx: The First Year of Open Online Courses, Fall 2012-Summer 2013, describes three key takeaways:

  1. Course completion rates can be misleading and may at times be counterproductive indicators of the impact and potential of open online courses.
  2. Most MOOC attrition happened after students first registered for a course. On average, 50 percent of people left within a week or two of enrolling.
  3. Given the “massive” scale of some MOOCs, small percentages are often still large numbers of students — and signify a potentially large impact.

The project was led by Isaac Chuang, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and Andrew Ho, an associate professor in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.