Friday, May 4, 2012

"This is the single biggest change in education since the printing press."

Anant Agarwal, President, edX
On rare occasion, I stray from this blog's focus on clinical neuropathology to inform readers about new innovations in education. After all, we neuropathologists, almost by definition, are educators. I would therefore like to introduce a new direction in higher education that may indeed change the world. I am talking about edX, a joint venture between Harvard and MIT that will offer online learning to millions of people around the world for free. Anyone with an internet connection, whether you are a shopkeeper in Bangalore or a teenager in Modesto, will soon be able to take graded courses at MIT and Harvard while engaging with other online students and interacting with professors. MIT launched the prototype for this new innovation this spring with a course called "Circuits and Electronics". About 120,000 individuals worldwide registered for this single course -- a number approaching the total number of living MIT alumni! Anant Agarwal, MIT’s Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and new President of edX, had this to say about this new venture: “Online education for students around the world will be the next big thing in education. This is the single biggest change in education since the printing press.”

At this point, no degrees will be granted, but students will receive certificates verifying completion of a course.

At the press conference announcing the launch of edX, Harvard Provost Alan Garber said:  “We believe in not only producing educational courses online, but using this as literally an unprecedented opportunity to examine fundamental questions about how we learn. This is not only about how to design the best online courses. This is about learning how to use the classroom more effectively… It’s enabling us to ask very different questions than we’ve typically asked before. For example, we need not only ask how will our students do on an exam, we can begin to ask questions about how well they acquire and apply the information months after the course has ended… This is a platform that will enable us to do research that simply hasn’t been possible before.”

There no doubt that this new endeavor will change the face of education, democratizing and radically diffusing knowledge and intellectual discourse. EdX is the beginning of a new way of teaching and a new way of learning, and the change will extend to medical education, including neuropathology education. This should be interesting.....

1 comment:

Agent 86 said...

Watched the whole vid. Very inspiring, but I did get the feeling that NP would be way too small to garner interest from such august institutions. I've been hoping to use the Khan microlecture model for my residents & fellows, but this damn day job keeps getting in the way. I'd never heard of LON-CAPA before, which also looks interesting:
Thanks for the post!