EdX to examine personalized MOOC experience

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s MOOC Research Initiative has granted HarvardX $21,450 to study how massive open online courses might be made more personalized for individuals in online courses everywhere, HarvardX announced Tuesday, The Harvard Crimson reports.

Led by Sergiy Nesterko, a HarvardX research fellow, and Svetlana I. Dotsenko ’10, founder of startup Project Lever, the study will take self-reported data from those enrolled in HarvardX classes, including country of origin, education level, gender, age, and usage of the course materials. The study will also look at individuals’ learning outcomes and goals.

“We want to…track how those goals manifest themselves in the students’ usage of courses, and ideally would see how those learning goals change over time and come up with a predictive system or a meaningful clustering of students,” Nesterko said in a phone interview.

The study will examine data from 17 HarvardX courses, five of which will have been completed before December 2013.

Selected from 266 original applications, this study is one of 28 projects that will receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s MOOC Research Initiative.

Nesterko said that through the study, he and and his team hope “create a recommendation system for students to help understand learning goals better.”

“We want to open ways for researchers to devise better delivery of learning content for students,” he said.

HarvardX courses and MOOCs in general see high attrition rates, many of which Nesterko said can be accounted for by different goals ranging from taking a course for credit to simply hoping to learn more about a particular topic.

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