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“I Want to Teach Engineering to a Billion”: Anant Agarwal, President of EdX (Part 2)

Posted on Friday, Feb 15th 2013

Sramana: How does the model support the on-campus vision? If your courses are built by universities all over the world with an open source methodology, how do localized campuses leverage that information?

Anant Agarwal: The platform is open source. The software is open source. The content is owned by the universities. They are the ones that provide the course content on the platform. Students from around the world take the courses from those universities.

EdX also hosts private groups for campuses. I’ll give you an example. Berkeley was hosting an AI class, and edX hosted a private class in support of this AI class. The local professor taught a blended class that had a campus experience and an online experience and edX hosted the online course for Berkeley.

There are other examples as well. We took the MIT Circuits and Electronics class and hosted that class at San Jose State. That was a huge success. They had 86 students in the class. In our courses, learning sequences replace lectures. Video snippets are interwoven with interactive exercises which form learning sequences. At San Jose State, the students watch the learning sequences and do the interactive laboratories from their dorm rooms before attending class. When they came to class, they would spend the first 15 minutes asking questions of the professor and then break into groups of three, where they had various problem solving sessions and discussions.

The final exam was a few weeks ago, and the results are staggering. Traditionally this class has had a 40% failure rate. This time around, with edX, the failure rate dropped to 9%. Those are stunning results for San Jose State.

Sramana: For all intents and purposes, this was the MIT course delivered at San Jose State, correct? So the content and the course structure were MIT’s and San Jose State delivered it as an on-campus course with San Jose State professors?

Anant Agarwal: Exactly. The content and the course were MIT’s. The platform was from edX, which means we hosted the operations. The point of contact with students was the local San Jose State professor.

Sramana: How does this show up on a resume of a student? This is an MIT course on a San Jose State degree program?

Anant Agarwal: There are two ways to take a edX class. One is an open format where the course is offered to the whole world. If you take the course and pass it, then you get a certificate from content university. If it were an MIT course, you would get an MITX certificate, and if it were a Berkeley course, you would get a BerkeleyX certificate.

This segment is part 2 in the series : "I Want to Teach Engineering to a Billion": Anant Agarwal, President of EdX
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