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

The first two HarvardX massive open online courses (MOOCs) launched in October 2012; four more courses launched in the spring of 2013, alongside 11 initial MITx courses. As of this date, 14 new and returning courses are slated to launch in the winter and spring. This report and its companion course reports examine these initial six HarvardX and 11 MITx course offerings 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?

The first courses were released on the edX platform at a time of rapid development, expansion, and change. As of this date, eight more HarvardX courses are currently underway, and dozens more modules and courses are in development. Systematic data collection and tools for randomized experiments were not in place initially. Research capabilities are now advancing, but the data from these first courses are limited in their ability to answer questions about effective online education. The findings in this report are therefore illustrative and raise more questions than they answer.  Part of the report elaborates on these limitations and begins to point the way towards a more promising future for HarvardX research. 

We strongly encourage reading these reports as a package to understand the full story of the collaborative HarvardX and MITx initiative in its first year. 

Ho, A. D., Reich, J., Nesterko, S., Seaton, D. T., Mullaney, T., Waldo, J., & Chuang, I. (2014). HarvardX and MITx: The first year of open online courses (HarvardX Working Paper No. 1).