UC Berkeley joins MIT and Harvard In edX

, , 1 Comment


EdX, the collaboration between MIT and Harvard established in May, has a new member.

UC Berkeley, is the third member of the learning consortium. Through collaboration and resource sharing, the group can better manage the logistics of implementing rigorous, free, online coursework in the context of the big business of higher ed.

MITx and Harvardx both made waves this spring when they evolved their initial approach to offer free, online coursework by teaming up to establish edX.

“We are very excited that UC Berkeley is joining us in this effort,” said Anant Agarwal, president of edX. “EdX is about revolutionizing learning, and we have received a tremendous outpouring of excitement and interest from universities around the world. UC Berkeley is an extraordinary public institution known not only for its academic excellence but also for its innovativeness. With this collaboration, edX is now positioned to improve education more rapidly, both
online and on-campus worldwide.”

The initiative recently received a grant from the Gates Foundation, money that will help establish a computer science course, and more perhaps more interestingly target low-income students in a blended learning setting.

It was also announced that the edX software will eventually be made public (in true open course spirit) so that others can use—and improve—the platform.

Our Take: Anything that disrupts education and offers learners more choices is a good thing. Partnering to share resources and know-how (UC Berkeley is bringing their own tweaks to the edX model that MITx and Harvardx will benefit from) makes sense.

From the beginning, it’s been interesting how the blue-bloods of education have shown the most interest–even if it itself is ultimately business-minded–in pushing Open Learning forward. What exactly is shared and standardized will be important to watch as these initiatives grow. There is a constant temptation to “grow” in America. Finding the right scale–even for an effort that intends to be worldwide and inclusive in access–will at some point be important.

It is also curious why universities are choosing to join together here when their very brand has relied on differences in the past. College is a business, and this may be a sign that the revenue models have to change.

For now, this is an interesting development.