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The study reviewed data on HarvardX and MITx, subsets of a virtual learning platform founded jointly by the two universities in 2012. Covering data spanning from fall 2012 to summer 2014, the report analysis included 68 courses, 1.7 million participants, and 1.1 billion logged events, or “clicks.”
According to the study, growth in course participation has been steady, with around 1,300 new participants joining a HarvardX or MITx course per day. The report defined “participants” as registrants who accessed any chapter of course content, according to Andrew D. Ho, chair of the HarvardX research committee and a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“There is an increasing number of registrants who never visit the course,” Ho said. By not including all registrants over the two-year period, the study excluded 1.3 million users, he added.
Despite the high number of participants, the level of enrollment engagement varied across academic disciplines. According to the report, computer science courses had almost twice as many participants—around 68,000 per course on average—as humanities, social studies, design, and government courses combined. However, the completion rates in STEM courses, including computer science, were only around half the rates in the humanities and social studies.
The report also found that only about one in five participants in the average STEM/CS course were female, while humanities and social studies courses had around twice that percentage of females.
Source: Harvard Crimson