EdX CEO: When Students Pay a Fee for ID-Verified Certifications the Pass Rate is 60 Percent


With 23 blended learning classes involving 2,800 students on campus, MIT is one of the most aggressive universities adopting blended learning.

With this experience and the 3 million records gathered from the edX platform –co-founded by MIT and Harvard–, it is time to study how people learn and re-engineer teaching and learning technology –namely, the Open edX platform.

“We have terabytes of data, including students working on problems,” said Anant Agarwal, president of edX and MIT teacher, in a Campus Technology keynote speech.

“We can capture every answer entered. We know what they’re doing at what time. What country they come from. We can look at what a student did to get an answer”. “We know what parts of the learning experience contribute to successful outcomes, and whether that’s tied to certain kinds of students. We are using this to learn how students learn.”

One promising idea is to use the platform to blend the best of online and in-person education, and continuously improve the technology in much the same way that Google tweaks its services.

Anant Agarwal noted that San Jose State University has taught the circuits and electronic course in a blended environment four times and has seen the failure rate drop from around 40 percent to 9 percent. Now 11 schools in the California State University system are adopting the same approach.

A solid-state chemistry class at MIT, led by professor Michael Cima, incorporates the idea that the entire course is a continuous exam. Students solve problems online.

In some scenarios, learning becomes a sort of video game, wherein instant feedback is a powerful component of gamification.

Another interesting data regarding MOOCs and their 5 percent pass rates: when students pay a fee for ID-verified certifications, the pass rate is closer to 60 percent.