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Topic: THIRD POSTING: Berkeley Joins 'edX' Effort to Offer Free Open Courses
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Jerry P. Becker

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Registered: 12/3/04
THIRD POSTING: Berkeley Joins 'edX' Effort to Offer Free Open Courses
Posted: Sep 26, 2012 12:32 PM
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From The Chronicle of Higher Education, Tuesday, July 24, 2012. See
Berkeley Joins 'edX' Effort to Offer Free Open Courses

By Jeffrey R. Young

Since the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard
University unveiled their plan to create a platform for free online
courses called edX, more than 120 other colleges and universities
around the world have expressed interested in joining in. Today
leaders of the effort announced that they've added the University of
California at Berkeley as a partner, and that more institutions will
eventually be admitted to the exclusive group.

While MIT and Harvard have both committed $30-million each to the
project, Berkeley will not bring any money to the table. Instead, it
will contribute technology-specifically, a new online-education
platform that engineers at the university had already been working
on, says John Wilton, Berkeley's vice chancellor. The university will
also teach two free courses through edX starting in the fall: one on
artificial intelligence and another on "software as a service."

Berkeley will also take a leadership role in edX, agreeing to chair
the "X University Consortium," a new governing body for the project.

"We really want to expand and add universities," said Anant Agarwal,
who leads the edX project and who is director of MIT's Computer
Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. "Berkeley is the
first one, the first of many." He would not say how many universities
would be added, however, or how soon new members will join.

"You should think of edX as a not-for-profit start-up," he added. "We
are gearing up and trying to ramp up as a start-up as fast as we can

The business plan for edX is similar to that of Coursera, a
for-profit start-up that has signed deals with more than a dozen
highly selective universities-meaning many key details remain
undecided. The only source of revenue planned for edX so far is to
charge students who successfully complete the courses a small fee for
certificates. But leaders of the effort say they may also offer
services to help employers use the courses to recruit new talent.

EdX has won major donations and grant support, however. Officials
announced today that an MIT alumnus, Philippe P. Laffont, founder of
Coatue Management LLC, and a Harvard alumnus, Jonathan Grayer, former
chairman and CEO of Kaplan Inc., have both made gifts to support the
effort, though the amounts were not released. Last month the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $1-million grant to support the
project as well.

Mr. Agarwal stressed that the long-term goal is to make the free
courses self-sustaining.

"We are talking to several other foundations, but I think you have to
become self-sustaining," he said. "No foundation wants to fund you

MIT has faced challenges in figuring out how to pay for its
pioneering OpenCourseWare effort to give away materials from hundreds
of its courses online, a project that is now more than a decade old.

One key difference between the edX project and for-profit companies
offering free courses is that edX leaders say the software they build
to offer their courses will be open source, so that anyone else can
use it free and help develop the code. "The open-source platform will
allow all of us to contribute to the platform and not have to worry
too much about who owns the intellectual property-it's going to be
shared," Mr. Agarwal said.

George Siemens, a pioneer of offering free open courses who is a
leader of Athabasca University's Technology Enhanced Knowledge
Research Institute, sees the open-software aspect of edX as "one of
the biggest benefits" of the project. "They're not just worried about
growing their brands, but they're making something that others can
use," he said.

He said he has been surprised by how rapidly major universities are
moving to offer free open courses, often called MOOCs, or massive
open online courses. "I can't recall a time when universities at one
moment have responded en masse as aggressively and as
collaboratively," he said.
This entry was posted in Distance Education, Teaching, Uncategorized.
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Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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