Designers of the course touted him as a poster boy for the power of free courses to spread high-quality education to the farthest reaches of the globe, and the New York Times hailed his story. But leaders of edX, the consortium started by MIT and Harvard University to develop free online courses, also did something else: They offered the star student a job, hoping he could make their MOOCs work better for other high schoolers.
As it turns out, edX needed the help. Despite the hope that courses from name-brand universities would draw students from high schools and less-selective colleges, some 70 percent of people taking edX courses already hold a college degree. MOOCs today are primarily serving the education haves, not disadvantaged learners.
“That certainly surprised me,” said Anant Agarwal, the CEO of edX and the instructor of the course Myanganbayar aced. “I expected more people who were in college [and high school],” he added. “We’re looking to change a few things to increase that number.” (Other MOOC providers have seen similar demographic trends, he notes.)
Bringing Myanganbayar in as an employee, though, raised tricky visa issues. But his high school principal in Mongolia, himself an MIT grad, suggested a hack: apply to MIT as a student, then work on MOOCs as a student job.
And that’s exactly what Myanganbayar did. Today, at age 17, he is finishing up his freshman year at MIT, where he has shared his critique of existing MOOCs. Continue reading on Slate.
MOOCs on edX continue to evolve and get better as they learn from students like Battushig and understand how MOOC learners learn. On OCW, we have related courseware for MITx courses to help you study or learn the prerequisite subject matter.
If OCW has helped you prepare for a MOOC, let us know!