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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

For a number of years, many universities have offered massive open online courses (MOOCs) in addition to traditional in-person classes. MOOCs are designed for much larger numbers of students than normal online classes and encourage students to enroll from outside the university. However, little research exists on how MOOCs compare with ordinary classes in terms of student experience and performance. One major issue is that large numbers of students who start these courses do not complete them. To better understand the reasons behind the high attrition rates, the Science Education Department (SED) of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian is engaged in two large-scale studies of two MOOCs offered by Harvard University.