Boston University Joins Leading Online Course Platform edX


CONTACT: Tom Testa, 617-353-7628,

(Boston) – Boston University today announced it has joined edX, the Harvard-and-MIT-led online learning platform.  The partnership reflects the University’s commitment to using technology’s benefits to extend and enhance the education BU students will receive, both on and off campus.  With the edX platform capturing data from over 900,000 students, BU professors will gain a deep understanding of how students learn which will allow for more flexibility in designing classes and discerning which educational methods work best with students.

“I am pleased that Boston University is joining the edX consortium to help pioneer the development of digital learning environments,” said Boston University President Dr. Robert A. Brown.  “I am excited about the opportunity to help develop and use these enhanced learning tools for our residential students, and to invent new hybrid educational platforms as the next step in our ongoing, significant commitment to online learning, especially for our students in graduate professional programs.”

Membership obligates BU to offer five MOOCs or massive open online courses via edX.  Although MOOCs typically enable people around the world to take a university class for free, without credit, BU and edX have adopted blended or hybrid courses which promote the face-to-face nature of classroom interactions, both students-to-teacher and between students. It simultaneously offers students the flexibility to access content online at their own pace while allowing faculty to use technology for presenting information and assessing learning outcomes in ways that are not possible in a traditional classroom setting.

“With more than 200 universities worldwide hoping for admission to edX and with several elite institutions already in, we are extraordinarily excited to be joining edX,” said BU Provost Jean Morrison. “It gives us the opportunity to collaborate with the consortium members on using their experience to better understand online learning. We can learn from each other and develop best practices around higher education.”

EdX will also extend BU’s significant global reach both by making BU professors and courses accessible to a global audience, and by increasing global connections for BU students.  For example, the impact of study abroad might be enhanced by online mini-courses before, during, and after the experience; online modules or courses could connect BU students with other students around the world; and online courses might even enable study abroad for students whose schedules currently keep them at home.

Joining edX is the latest step taken by Boston University to develop and implement a digital learning strategy.  Another major step was taken last year when Dr. Brown established the Council on Educational Technology & Learning Innovation (CETLI) at BU to engage the faculty in the exploration and application of on-line educational technology.  This university-wide group has been charged with examining the ways in which on-line technology can be used to enhance the educational experience of on-campus, residential students as well as to reach new learning communities.  The group, consisting largely of faculty members, has underscored the need for BU to participate in an on-line consortium, and identified edX as the preferred platform.

The first BU hybrid courses on edX will be available within the next couple of years, while the MOOCs will be available in one year.  EdX will complement, not replace, BU’s Blackboard e-learning system.

BU joins edX along with several other institutions, including Cornell, Davidson College, Berklee College of Music, Universite catholiqué de Louvain (Belgium), Munich’s Technical University, the University of Washington, China’s Tsinghua University, Japan’s Kyoto University, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Seoul National University, Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), and the University of Queensland (Australia).

Existing edX members include the founders plus Berkeley, Rice, the University of Texas, Wellesley, Georgetown, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), Australian National University, Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands), and Canada’s McGill and the University of Toronto.

About edX

EDX is a not-for-profit enterprise comprised of 20+ leading global institutions, the xConsortium. Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX is focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research on an open source platform. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX is focused on people, not profit, and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.

About Boston University

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research.  With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.  BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission.  In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.


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