News & Announcements

The Future of Scholarship

The Harvard Crimson 23 Oct 2012 By THE CRIMSON STAFF
One of the most rapidly changing spheres of American society is the realm of education. Over the last generation, higher education has increasingly become a prerequisite to social mobility. The challenges of accommodating such an increase in appetite for learning have been profound. In the pursuit of expanding education beyond its gates, Harvard recently partnered with MIT to launch edX, a series of Massive Online Open Courses. Continually expanding and wildly popular, edX is built to become a comprehensive alternative to traditional education. So far the project bodes well. Harvard’s contribution to the project should be commended, and the overall trend toward affordable education continued. A non-profit venture, edX was created to further a mission of accessible education started by MITx in 2011. With $60 million in startup capital provided by Harvard and MIT, edX constitutes one of the largest investments made in online education. Evidence suggests it will need the money. Online, accessible education has so far proved a lethal industry for some of its entrants: Columbia attempted its own program that failed in 2003, and a similar effort by Yale, Oxford, and Stanford closed six years ago due to insufficient funds. We can only hope that edX does not suffer a similar fate, as the status quo is in desperate need of change. Read more about The Harvard Crimson | The Future of Scholarship

Free, high-quality and with mass appeal

Financial Times 22 Oct 2012 By Rebecca Knight
Edward Hess, professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, is teaching a “massive open online course” (mooc) starting in January on Coursera – the free online education platform founded this year by two Stanford University computer scientists. So far, more than 26,000 students have signed up. “I usually teach 120 or 130 students a year,” says Prof Hess. “Do you know how many years I would have to live before I could teach that many students?” Read more about Financial Times | Free, high-quality and with mass appeal

Campus Connection: Online videos replace live lectures … and students thrive

The Cap Times 21 Oct 2012 By Todd Finkelmeyer
Online education still tends to get a bad rap in some circles -- especially among those of us who grew up listening to professors talk at the front of a lecture hall. But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that a good mix of online and face-to-face teaching and learning can trump the more traditional (old-fashioned?) ways. The latest tidbit suggesting as much comes from this Chronicle of Higher Education article, which reports that “in an effort to raise student performance in a difficult course, San Jose State University has turned to a ‘flipped classroom’ format, requiring students to watch lecture videos produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and using (on-campus) class time for discussion.” Read more about The Cap Times | Campus Connection: Online videos replace live lectures … and students thrive

Getting the most out of an online education

Reuters 19 Oct 2012 By Kathleen Kingsbury
Courses from the state higher education system will soon be offered via edX, the $60 million initiative launched last spring by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to provide free, Web-based classes. The University of California at Berkeley joined forces with edX in July, and now Texas will invest $5 million. EdX is only one of several online platforms offering so-called MOOCs, or "massive open online courses." Rival startup Coursera, founded by two Stanford University computer science professors and funded by Silicon Valley venture capital, last month added 17 top institutions to its roster, including Columbia University, the University of London and the University of Science and Technology. A total of 33 Coursera university partners teach courses in a broad range of subjects, from electrical engineering to modern poetry to neuroethics. More than 1.5 million students have enrolled. Read more about Reuters | Getting the most out of an online education

EdX Inches Toward 1 Billion Students

Boston Magazine 19 Oct 2012 By Chris Vogel
Ever since our September profile of edX, the online education program created by MIT and Harvard that aspires to educate the masses for free, there’s been one burning question on my mind: How many people are actually signing up? Last spring, MITx offered a test-pilot class on electrical circuits, and an astounding 154,763 individuals signed up for the course. Surely, that was a sign of good things to come. When students started to register for edX’s classes this fall, I expected a virtual stampede. After all, edX’s goal is to educate one billion people. One. Billion. People. Read more about Boston Magazine | EdX Inches Toward 1 Billion Students

EdX announces partnership with Cengage

The Tech 19 Oct 2012 By Leon Lin
On Wednesday edX announced a new collaboration with Cengage Learning, a large Connecticut-based provider of educational content and software. The company will both supply content to edX and work with edX to improve pedagogy. Cengage publishes Principles of Biostatistics, the textbook for one of Harvard’s edX classes, Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical & Public Health Research. Harvard School of Public Health professor Marcello Pagano, a co-instructor of the class, is also one of the co-authors of the text. The book, like the rest of edX’s content, will be free for students. Read more about The Tech | EdX announces partnership with Cengage

Opinion: MITx and the classroom of tomorrow

The Tech 19 Oct 2012 By Sam Shames
In recent weeks, there has been much energy and enthusiasm about both MITx and its multi-institutional counter part edX. Listening to the debate over how MITx can be integrated into the residential experience, I am impressed by how much thought all affected parties have invested. We as a community are at a crossroads. We have been presented with an opportunity to substantially change what it means to receive a college education. This possibility excites me, but for others it may seem slightly frightening. Many people are concerned about what we may lose in the process of integrating online education into our current system. While these concerns are certainly valid, I am still optimistic. Rather than focus on how MITx might harm, I focus on how it can transform. What follows is my vision of how this transformation might play out. One of the biggest concerns about MITx is how it may try to replace the traditional classroom. But rather than replace, MITx helps reinforce and supplement the traditional lecture format by allowing students to learn and the teacher to teach more effectively. With MITx, a student who is struggling and needs extra help can use the course material on MITx to review previous lectures and complete extra practice problems. Having the opportunity to see the same material again, but presented differently, will help these students grasp difficult concepts. At the same time, instant feedback shows students their progress and allows them to see what they have mastered. What’s more exciting as a learner than watching yourself improve? Read more about The Tech | Opinion: MITx and the classroom of tomorrow

San Jose State U. Says Replacing Live Lectures With Videos Increased Test Scores

The Chronicle 17 Oct 2012 By Alisha Azevedo
In an effort to raise student performance in a difficult course, San Jose State University has turned to a “flipped classroom” format, requiring students to watch lecture videos produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and using class time for discussion. And initial data show the method is leading to higher test scores, university officials announced this week. The class, “Engineering Electronics and Circuits,” has been “one of the most-hated courses in the college,” said David W. Parent, a professor and undergraduate coordinator in the electrical-engineering department. The course has a historically low passing rate—40 percent of students in the class received a C or lower last semester—and change was needed, said Khosrow Ghadiri, an adjunct professor who teaches the flipped-classroom version. Read more about The Chronicle | San Jose State U. Says Replacing Live Lectures With Videos Increased Test Scores

Online university to charge tuition fees

BBC News 17 Oct 2012 By Sean Coughlan
The latest expansion in prestigious online universities in the US includes plans to charge for courses which will count towards degrees. The University of Texas (UT) System is joining the edX online platform project set up by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The University of Texas says it could offer degree credits through the online platform, with a tuition fee attached. Read more about BBC News | Online university to charge tuition fees

HarvardX marks the spot

Harvard Gazette 17 Oct 2012 By Tania deLuzuriaga
Harvard University’s first two courses on the new digital education platform edX launched this week, as more than 100,000 learners worldwide began taking dynamic online versions of CS50, the College’s popular introductory computer science class, and PH207, a Harvard School of Public Health course in epidemiology and biostatistics. For Marcello Pagano, a professor of statistical computing who is co-teaching PH207x, the potential to teach so many students at once is amazing. “I figure I’d have to teach another 200 years to reach that many students in person,” he said. Read more about Harvard Gazette | HarvardX marks the spot

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