MOOCs and "improving pedagogy"

Massive open online courses, or "MOOCs", are big and getting bigger. Coursera is a well known name in the space but EdX, a MOOC platform that is an expanding collaboration of universities started by Harvard & MIT, was new to me.

The New York Times ends their article about the rush of universities to join these platforms with a logic-defying turn:

As important as providing free access to students worldwide, Dr. Agarwal said, is edX’s goal of using the platform for research on how students learn, and better on-campus pedagogy.
So far, most MOOCs have had dropout rates exceeding 90 percent.