In 2012, education startups attracted millions of students—and a surge of interest from universities and the media—by offering massive open online courses, or MOOCs, MIT Technology Review reports. Now some core features of these wildly popular courses are being dissected, enabling the course providers to do some learning of their own. As these companies analyze user data and experiment with different features, they are exploring how to customize students’ learning experiences, and they are amassing a stock of pedagogical tricks to help more students finish their courses. “The data we are collecting is unprecedented in education,” says Andrew Ng, a...

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