For a couple of years now I have been complaining to folks in the Harvard administration that the school is woefully behind when it comes to embracing the Internet. So I was thrilled to see the announcement of the edX initiative with MIT yesterday. The two combined with a $60 million commitment will make a formidable force in higher education on the Internet. For people everywhere who want to learn there is an exciting competition starting between some formidable institutions with Coursera (Princeton, Stanford, Michigan, Penn) and Udacity (unaffliated) also in the running.
And now for the real challenge for both MIT and Harvard (other than actually launching): how to integrate edX back into the schools themselves. That will make all the difference not just for the success of edX but also for the experience of attending one of the schools. If students on campus are connected to the world through edX and vice versa, then the two can serve to enhance each other. Part of what this means in my view is (eventually) abandoning the idea of four years on campus. By that I don’t mean junior year abroad, but something more radical. Maybe as far as spending one year at a time or even less on campus.
The opportunities here are enormous. I am excited to see where it goes!