High Demand Drives Engagement for Harvard Architecture MOOC


Professor Michael Hays standing near a row of desks

The Architectural Imagination, a new online course from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and HarvardX, reached more than 25,000 engaged learners in its first week, revealing a global audience hungry to study architecture. (An engaged learner is a registered learner who also explores course content, views a course video, or attempts a problem set – indicating a level of interest and engagement with the material.)

Enrollment demographics indicate that this course appeals to a vast international audience with more than 80% of learners residing outside the United States (a typical HarvardX course sees about 65% international enrollment). Further, Brazilian learners make up more than 25% of total enrollments.

The course, which launched on February 28, introduces fundamental principles of architecture from a study of history’s important buildings. Through vivid analyses of exemplary structures and hands-on exercises in drawing and modeling, learners get a first-hand glimpse into the work of an actual architect or historian. (Read more about the course in this blog post.)

As they developed their first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Harvard Graduate School of Design quickly realized that the course content tapped into a pent-up demand for architectural education. Leading architecture publications and others, such as Arch Daily and Boston Magazine, picked up the course announcement, driving enrollments to top 100,000.

Recent social media posts show participants are finding what they were looking for.

   Architectural Imagination Facebook Post

Architectural Imagination Twitter Post_6


Twitter post for Architectural Imagination_4       

Architectural Imagination Twitter Post


Twitter post for Architectural Imagination_5


“The Architectural Imagination” is taught by Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory; Erika Naginski, Professor of Architectural History and Director of Graduate Studies; Antoine Picon, G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology and Director of Research; and Lisa Haber-Thomson, Instructor in Architecture.

The course is self-paced, which means learners can join at any time between now and February 2018 and learn on their own schedule. For more details, visit The Architectural Imagination.


The Architectural Imagination course image