Anant Agarwal, CEO of the nonprofit MOOC platform provider edX, had some harsh words for traditional education, saying it’s “pathetic” that classrooms today still look like the did decades ago. And, undaunted by MOOC critics, Agarwal highlighted the potential he sees for MOOCs in a keynote address at the Campus Technology conference yesterday.
By David Raths
In just a few years, massive open online courses have already been through a multiple phases of the Gartner “hype cycle.” But Anant Agarwal, CEO of the nonprofit MOOC platform provider edX, remains undaunted. One of edX’s goals was to increase access to education, and by all accounts it has succeeded. By opening up its platform to others, it has allowed universities and governments in many countries to expand its reach. “It is a federated, decentralized approach to spread education around the world,” Agarwal told attendees of the Campus Technology annual conference in a keynote speech yesterday.
Rather than begin a broader philosophical discussion about the role of MOOCs in higher education, Agarwal chose to focus on what edX has been doing and its potential for using big data to improve teaching and learning outcomes, both online and in blended learning environments.
edX was launched in 2012 with seed funding from MIT and Harvard. Agarwal, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics. It drew 155,000 students from 162 countries.
He tried to put those numbers in perspective to stress the impact edX has already had. “That 155,000 figure is more than the total number of alumni of MIT in history,” he said. The 7,200 who passed the rigorous course are more than the total number of students he will ever teach in his career at MIT, he said. “From a lark two and a half years ago, it is becoming a movement.”
[ Full article available at Campus Technology: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2014/07/31/edx-ceo-it-is-pathetic-that-the-education-system-has-not-changed-in-hundreds-of-years.aspx ]