Table 1 lists courses and key dates for the 17 courses from the first year of HarvardX and MITx. We abbreviate courses for convenience and exposition. Some abbreviations are a matter of course convention, like HarvardX’s CS50X, HeroesX, and JusticeX, and others are a shorthand used only in these reports, like SSChem-2, referring to the second offering of 3.091x: Solid State Chemistry, at MITx. The time periods between registration openings and course launches, and course launches and course wrap dates, differ considerably across courses. As registration windows and the length of the course are likely to influence initial registration numbers and other course statistics, these are important contextual features to appreciate. Some courses also remain open long after the final due date of all materials, and enrollments continue to rise even though certification is no longer possible. This asynchronicity is a key feature of open online course design and usage. This report uses data up through September 8, 2013, a date after the close of all 17 courses.
Table 1. The first 6 HarvardX and 11 MITX courses from the 2012–2013 academic year, their instructors, and key dates.
These courses are notable for their differences, from the humanities to the sciences, from small courses (CopyrightX instructor William Fisher capped enrollment at 500) to the most registered course thus far on all of edX, CS50X: Introduction to Computer Science. The MITx courses generally had a similar structure, running 12–15 weeks and with relatively similar numbers of problems, videos, and e-text pages. HarvardX courses differed more from each other on a number of dimensions, including course length, enrollment, and the relative emphasis on course components like video, assessments, and forums. The individual course reports for HarvardX and MITx provide more information about the differences among courses.
Because CopyrightX was a limited-enrollment online course, we do not include it in subsequent comparisons and refer interested readers to the HarvardX report (Fisher, 2014). Tables and figures that concern online activity also exclude the HarvardX computer science course, CS50X, because the instructor, David Malan, ran a substantial proportion of his course on a platform (cs50x.org) that provided alternative activity statistics. We refer interested readers to his slide deck reviewing the course (Malan, 2013).