edX acquired by educational technology company 2U – Harvard Gazette
GAZETTE: Can you provide us with the motivation behind the partnerships that the association will aim to establish?
ANAND: Impactful learning takes more than creating high-quality content on online platforms. It requires enabling discovery, providing support to learners, facilitating credit, and measuring learning outcomes. In other words, content production needs to be well integrated with organizations that provide such ‘last mile’ presence and support.
The same goes for the retraining of the workforce for the future. The non-profit organization will facilitate partnerships between higher education institutions and private, non-profit and public sector organizations to create scalable ‘future of work’ models, explore efficiency of various interventions in a rigorous manner and to disseminate the learning.
We need to transform adult education and lifelong learning for a wide range of learners who are affected by forces such as globalization and technological innovation.
Harvard has already established various partnerships, through our Graduate School for Education, initiatives such as Future of Work, and programs through other Harvard schools, with organizations that strive to address inequalities in opportunity. education and workforce development. We’re hoping the nonprofit will expand on these types of efforts, with new collaborations starting here in Cambridge and Boston, and spilling out to other parts of the country and around the world.
GAZETTE: What do you mean by next generation learning experience platforms and how could they lead to higher quality experiences for a different and more diverse learner population?
ANAND: You know, we’ve already learned a lot about online learning at Harvard and elsewhere. Ten years ago, online platforms were designed to host content to be distributed on a large scale. Since then, we’ve learned to design much more immersive social learning experiences. The association will strive to advance the development of platforms, including some used at Harvard and MIT, that successfully incorporate evidence-based teaching principles.
How can we design learning experiences that spark curiosity, instill confidence and inspire learning? How can learning platforms enable personalization, make connections and facilitate multimodal formats – in person or virtual, live or asynchronous? Questions around pedagogy and platforms go hand in hand and present deeply exciting opportunities. More than anything, we need to design and deploy platforms that allow us to meet more learners where they are, so that everyone can access new technologies online. The association will support research to learn more about the barriers disadvantaged communities face to be able to take full advantage of e-learning platforms, such as language barriers, bandwidth and cultural biases in design, and develop concrete strategies to remedy this.
We have also learned a little more since the start of the pandemic. It was an unprecedented and difficult time for all of us. But some pretty remarkable things also happened that otherwise would not have happened so quickly. Educators and learners have been forced to think differently and innovate. Here at Harvard, there has been so much creative energy that has gone into this overhaul of teaching and learning. Teachers have learned that new possibilities arise when our classrooms are no longer bound by time and location constraints.
Over the past six months, the Future of Teaching and Learning Working Group, convened with the support of Provost Garber and President [Larry] Bacow, brought people from all schools and units across the University to systematically explore how Harvard can build on the creativity, experiments and inventions that our professors have applied to their teaching during the pandemic across the University. and its global community as we move forward.
GAZETTE: Would you like to add anything else?
GARBER: I look forward to this next chapter in our partnership with MIT to reinvent learning. Over the years we have worked together on edX, and many others, we have built great trust and mutual respect. Of course, Harvard’s strengths complement those of MIT in this mission, such as their innovation in open source software and our strong Graduate School of Education, advancements in online learning, and policy agendas.
Perhaps most important, however, is the fact that we are largely interested in the same things, and our overall goal remains the same: to enhance learning and provide meaningful educational opportunities for people from all walks of life who are thirsty for learning. ‘to learn.