Earlier this week MIT and Harvard University announced the release of a series of working papers based on 17 online courses offered on the edX platform. The working paper series features detailed reports about individual courses; these reports reveal differences and commonalities among massive open online courses (MOOCs).
The papers analyze an average of 20 gigabytes of data per course and draw on interviews with faculty and course teams as well as student metrics.
Takeaway 1: Course completion rates, often seen as a bellwether for MOOCs, can be misleading and may at times be counterproductive indicators of the impact and potential of open online courses.
Takeaway 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. After that window, attrition rates decreased substantially. The average probability of a student ceasing to engage in the second week of the course declined to 16 percent.
Takeaway 3: Given the “massive” scale of some MOOCs, small percentages are often still large numbers of students — and signify a potentially large impact.
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Also interesting to read is the review of Tony Bates.
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