During the fall semester of 2016, MIT allowed students to complete an edX version of its Circuits and Electronics for credit class.
The goal was to provide flexibility in learning for students with scheduling conflicts, which was intended to reduce stress. MIT has released an analysis of the course data that shows interesting insights:
- 27 out of 31 students completed the course.
- More than half of the students noted specific class scheduling conflicts as their reason for taking the edX class instead of the on-campus version.
- Most of the students’ learning time was spent working on homework and viewing lecture videos.
- Students rated the online course as significantly less stressful than their on-campus classes.
- Students noted that they did not feel the need for help of on-campus professors.
- Participants who completed a pre- and post-diagnostic assessment showed statistically significant growth, but this data is limited.
- The distribution of final grades in the class was comparable to distributions for on-campus sections from the past three semesters. Distributions indicate that success in the edX course was not dramatically harder or easier than the traditional subject.
In interviews, students said that online homework provided multiple benefits. For example, they liked the immediate feedback and getting several tries to find the right answer.
“Having the solutions available instantly was really nice for the homework… so they take longer but they’re not more stressful,” explained one student.
Some participants did express a desire for additional problems beyond those that they were offered on the online version.