At the end of last year, Isaac Chuang, senior associate dean of digital learning, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and professor of physics at MIT, and Andrew Ho, professor of education and chair of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning Research Committee at Harvard University, released one of the largest surveys of massive open online courses (MOOCs) to date. Their report, HarvardX and MITx: Four Years of Open Online Courses—Fall 2012-Summer 2016, draws on 290 courses, 245,000 certificates (both free and paid), 4.5 million participants, and 2.3 billion events logged online on edX, the MOOC platform established by Harvard and MIT.
The survey revealed that the typical participant in an edX MOOC is a 20something male from outside the U.S., who already has a bachelor’s degree and is taking the course for certification. The number of participants has grown steadily since edX launched in 2012, with more than 1,500 people registering for a course every day.
While the median number of participants in an edX course is about 7,900, only 500 end up becoming certified. The report noted that not all courses offer free certificates and not all participants sign up in pursuit of certification.
The complete report is available on publisher Elsevier's Social Science Research Network site.