HarvardX Working Papers

Background

On May 2, 2012, the presidents of Harvard University and MIT stood side by side to introduce edX, a jointly owned, not-for-profit venture to deliver open online learning opportunities to anyone around the world with an internet connection. The goals of the enterprise include increased access to educational opportunities worldwide, enhancement of on-campus residential education, and research about effective technology-mediated education. The respective university efforts to achieve these goals are known as HarvardX and MITx.

“edX gives Harvard and MIT an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically extend our collective reach, by conducting groundbreaking research into effective education and by extending online access to quality higher education.” - Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust, May 2, 2012, announcing the launch of edX.

The first two HarvardX courses launched in October of 2012, and four more courses launched in Spring 2013.  As of this date, 14 new and returning courses are slated to launch in the winter and spring. Now that data for the first six HarvardX courses have been delivered and analyzed, this is an opportune time to examine these first offerings, in order to inform ongoing course design and research. 

HarvardX is pleased to make these initial reports available to the public (in tandem with the respective MITx courses). They address simple questions across multiple courses: Who registered?  What did they do?  Where are they from?  

  1. HarvardX and MITx: The First Year of Open Online Courses

    The first two HarvardX open online courses launched on the edX platform in October 2012; four more courses launched in Spring 2013. This report and its companion course reports examine these initial six course offerings -- alongside the initial 11 MITx courses -- in order to inform ongoing course design and research. Now that data has been delivered and analyzed, it is an ideal time to examine these initial offerings in order to inform ongoing course design and research. This summary report addresses simple questions across multiple courses: Who registered?  What did they do?  Where are they from? We strongly encourage reading these reports as a package to understand the full story of the HarvardX and MITx initiative in its first year.  

  2. PH207x: Health in Numbers and PH278x: Human Health and Global Environmental Change 

    In the 2012-2013 academic year, the first two Harvard School of Public Health courses were offered through HarvardX on the edX platform: PH207x: Health in Numbers and PH278x: Human Health and Global Environmental Change. They were taught by Professors Earl Francis Cook and Marcello Pagano, and Aaron Bernstein and Jack Spengler, respectively. This report describes the structure of these two courses, the demographic characteristics of registrants, and the activity of students. This report was prepared by researchers external to the course teams and is based on examination of the courseware, analyses of the data collected by the edX platform, and interviews and consultations with the course faculty and team members.

  3. CB22x: HeroesX 

    CB22x was offered as a HarvardX course on the edX platform in Spring 2013. It was taught by Professor Greg Nagy. The report is based on examination of the courseware, analyses of the data collected by the edX platform, and interviews and consultations with the course faculty and team members.

  4. ER22x: JusticeX 

    ER22x was offered as a HarvardX course on the edX platform in Spring 2013. It was taught by Professor Michael Sandel. The report was prepared by researchers external to the course team, based on an examination of the courseware, analyses of data collected by the edX platform, and interviews with the course faculty and team members.

  5. HLS1X: CopyrightX 

    This report describes the first Harvard Law School open online course, first offered through HarvardX on the edX platform in Spring 2013. The course was taught by Professor William Fisher, who also prepared this report. Modified versions will be offered in the spring semesters of 2014 and 2015.  This document describes and evaluates the 2013 version and outlines plans for the 2014 version.