Data from edX’s first course offer preliminary insights into online learning

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In March 2012, MIT launched 6.002x, a free online version of MIT’s introductory course in circuits and electronics. The course, the first massive open online course (MOOC) offered by MITx — and also the inaugural offering from edX, the online-learning partnership later founded by MIT and Harvard University — sparked worldwide interest, along with a large amount of data.

Almost 155,000 people registered for the course; throughout the semester, users clicked and scrolled through lecture videos, tutorials and discussion threads, generating more than 230 million interactions with the online platform.

Researchers from MIT and Harvard are now trying to make sense of this data, which includes students’ clickstreams (recordings of where and when users click on a page) and their homework, lab and exam scores, as well as comments made on discussion forums and responses to an end-of-course survey.

In a paper published this month in the journal Research & Practice in Assessment, the MIT-Harvard team reports preliminary results from its analysis of 6.002x data on users’ characteristics, study habits and motivations for taking the course. The team included lead author Lori Breslow, the director of MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL); physics professor David Pritchard, who heads MIT’s Research in Learning, Assessing and Tutoring Effectively (RELATE) group; and Andrew Ho, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Adapted from an MIT News press release.