By Ry Rivard
After months of wooing and under close scrutiny, edX was rejected this week by Amherst College amid faculty concerns about the online course provider’s business plans and impact on student learning.
Amherst professors voted on Tuesday not to work with edX, a nonprofit venture started by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to provide massive open online courses, or MOOCs. In interviews, professors cited a wide range of reasons for rejecting edX — which currently works with only 12 elite partner colleges and universities — starting with edX’s incompatibility with Amherst’s mission and ending with, to some, the destruction of higher education as we know it.
Amherst – an elite liberal arts college where seminars are the norm and professors pride themselves on spending an hour on each student’s paper – has been looking for companies with which it could experiment with online education.
After rejecting for-profit companies, including 2U, Amherst decided to explore a deal with edX.
Amherst President Carolyn (Biddy) Martin left the final decision about the deal in the hands of her faculty. She expressed public support for working with edX but said she saw risks either way.
After months of deliberation on campus, the faculty met Tuesday night to decide if Amherst should join edX. The administration said it would respect the faculty vote. The faculty voted on a substitute motion offered by an opponent of the edX deal that concluded Amherst should chart its own course rather than join edX. Seventy faculty members then voted to formally approve that motion, 41 voted against and five abstained.
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed:http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/04/19/despite-courtship-amherst-decides-shy-away-star-mooc-provider ]