Table 2 displays total course enrollments as measured by the number of registrants in the course. Across these first HarvardX and MITx courses, 43196 registrants were certified, and another 35937 registrants explored more than half of the courseware chapters but were not certified. A total of 469702 registrants viewed less than half of the courseware chapters, and 292852 registrants never entered the courseware at all. In total, there were 841687 registrations across the first year of HarvardX and MITx courses.

Table 2. Registrants, membership of registrants in mutually exclusive registration categories, and exploration/certification rates.

Table 2

Average course certification rates are 62% among registrants who explored the course, 9% among registrants who viewed the course, and 6% among all registrants in the course. Note that these unweighted, average percentages are different from rates that weight by the number of registrants in the course, which can generally be calculated from the raw numbers in Table 2. Unweighted averages, as presented, prevent large courses from proportionately influencing summary statistics and better describe the typical course than the typical registrant.

As we argued earlier, course certification rates are difficult to interpret without understanding whether and which registrants are making an informed commitment to become certified. Further, certification is a poor proxy for learning without the benefit of pretest data or other baseline measures. Information about informed commitment was not available when these courses were administered, and pretest information was not collected systematically across courses. HarvardX now has a common survey administered across courses, and MITx has common instruments available to course instructors, so future annual reports can better disaggregate results by stated initial intentions.

Figure 3 displays results from Table 2 and illustrates numbers of registrants in particular categories. The CS50X course has more than double the registration of other courses, although it has also been open for registration the longest, since July 24, 2012, and it remains open now. Again, this reflects the asynchronicity that is a hallmark of many open online courses. MITx courses had fewer registrants than HarvardX courses on average. This may be explainable in part by the specialized audience for some of the more MITx courses, as indicated by their prerequisites.

Figure 3. Numbers of total registrants in HarvardX and MITX courses, by registrant category. (CS50X numbers of only viewed and only registered are 102K and 67K, respectively.)

Figure 3