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The Power of MOOCs

Harvard and MIT researchers take a look at the reach and realm of massive open online courses

April 6, 2015
MOOC

Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Andrew Ho was a co-lead author on one of the largest studies to date on massive open online courses (MOOCs). An excerpt follows from an article published in the Harvard Gazette on April 1, 2015, "Massive Study on MOOCs".

Since “Year of the MOOC” became a catchphrase in 2012, massive open online courses have had their fans and detractors. Some have claimed that online learning is a “disruptive revolution” and a harbinger of the end of residential colleges, while others have called MOOCs at best “mere marketing” or at worst an abject failure, singling out low completion rates.

Expanded data and research about MOOC participants and evidence-based assessments of online learning trends might, however, begin to move the conversation beyond anecdotes and heated opinions.

Today, a joint Harvard and MIT research team published one of the largest investigations of MOOCs (massive open online courses) to date. Building on their prior work — a January 2014 report describing the first year of open online courses launched on edX, a nonprofit learning platform founded by the two institutions — the latest effort incorporates another year of data, bringing the total to nearly 70 courses in subjects from programming to poetry.

“We explored 68 certificate-granting courses, 1.7 million participants, 10 million participant-hours, and 1.1 billion participant-logged events,” said the study’s co-lead author, Andrew Ho, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and chair of the HarvardX research committee. The research team also used surveys to ­gain additional information about participants’ backgrounds and intentions.

Read the full article here.

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