Education Opinion

The First Year of HarvardX: Public Talk January 21

By Justin Reich — January 15, 2014 2 min read
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For the past six months, most of my research energies have been focused on studying the first year’s worth of open online courses created by HarvardX and MITx. I’ve worked with a fabulous group of colleagues from both institutions, and next week we plan to release a series of working papers detailing our findings. In particular, we’ve made a substantial effort to examine courses in their own context, and to consider carefully at what kind of learning experience the faculty in each course was trying to create. I’m hopeful that our work will add nuance to the conversation about open online learning.

On January 21st, I’ll be giving a livestreamed talk at the Harvard Graduate School of Education sharing some of our insights. Peter Bol, the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning at Harvard, and two members of the HarvardX Research Committee, Bridget Terry Long, and Dan Levy will be discussants. It should be a very interesting conversation, and anyone who has read my missives here is cordially invited (on campus at HGSE if you are in town, and via the livestream for those afar.)

The event page for the talk is here. The livestream link will be updated from there as it gets closer to the event. Details below:

The First Year of HarvardX: Research Findings to Inform the Future of Online Learning

  • Date and Time: January 21st, 6:00pm - 7:30pm
  • Hosts: Harvard Graduate School of Education, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and HarvardX
  • Location: Larsen Hall, G-08, Appian Way, Cambridge, MA
  • Hashtag: #harvardx
  • Livestream/Recording Link: Watch live here.


  • Introduction: Peter Bol, Vice Provost for Advances in Learning, Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
  • Speaker: Justin Reich, Richard L. Menschel HarvardX Research Fellow, Fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Discussant: Bridget Terry Long, Academic Dean and the Xander Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Member of the HarvardX Research Committee
  • Discussant: Dan Levy, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government and co-chair of the HarvardX Research Committee


During the 2012-2013 academic year HarvardX launched six courses on edX, an online learning platform jointly founded by Harvard and MIT. In addition to expanding access to knowledge and improving residential education, one of the underlying goals of of the enterprise was to advance research on learning.

To that end, on January 21st, the HarvardX research team and MIT’s Office of Digital Learning, will release a series of course reports detailing research findings that cut across the enterprise and drill deeply into the nuances of particular courses.

In this talk, affiliates from HarvardX will discuss the reports, with particular emphasis on the six courses created and taught by faculty from schools and departments across the University.

Based upon data from 400,000 registrants, the researchers will explore the influence of diverse teaching approaches and instructional platforms, highlight the various learning goals of students, and delve into activity, persistence, and performance metrics that go beyond simple measures of attrition and completion.

The aim is to provide a critical research-informed perspective on MOOCs and other online learning endeavors and inspire discussion about the limitations of online learning and possibilities for innovation in coming years.

For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my publications, C.V., and online portfolio, visit EdTechResearcher.

The opinions expressed in EdTech Researcher are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.