Monday, January 30, 2017

Harvard and MIT free online course popular with teachers

A new report on Harvard and MIT free online courses shows they are popular with teachers at 32% of students (Chuang & Ho, 2016). The rate at which students complete is 5.5%, increasing to 30% for students who say they plan to earn a certificate, 36% for those who get through half  a course and 60% for those who paid for a verified certificate.

These findings are similar to those observed for conventional paper based DE courses half a century ago, more recent on-line course experience and common sense. Not surprisingly, teachers make enthusiastic students and the more a student has invested in a course, in terms of money or time, the more likely they are to complete.

The lesson for course promoters I suggest are:
  1. Target teachers as students, and recruit people from other disciplines to be teachers (and thus students),
  2. Have Students Invest Early: Charging students even a token amount for a course will increase their rate of completion. Alternatively, or in addition, have the students do a significant amount of work early on.


Chuang, I., & Ho, A.  (2016). HarvardX and MITx:  Four Years of Open Online Courses. Retrieved from

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