Boston University Joins edX

May 21st, 2013

From Dr. Robert Brown, University President, and Dr. Jean Morrison, University Provost and Chief Academic Officer

We are delighted to announce that Boston University has joined edX, the not-for-profit consortium of universities founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is creating an open source, state-of-the-art software platform we will use to develop online offerings. After careful evaluation and assessment of a variety of different online platforms and possible partners, edX rose easily to the top as the consortium and software platform that will provide Boston University with the best opportunities to engage in digital learning in ways that suit our goals and needs. We believe this is a singular opportunity to set the direction of our digital learning and online education initiative in collaboration with a cohort of high quality institutions worldwide.

Our membership in edX commits Boston University to offering five Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that will be available to all and hosted on the edX website. Our agreement with edX also makes it possible for us to use the edX platform to offer a quality learning environment to Boston University students.

By accepting the invitation to join the edX consortium, we will have the opportunity to enhance our on-campus learning through new methodologies and experiences. Boston University is, at its core, a residential research university and we envision our involvement with new digital technologies as an important way to enhance the quality of the residentially-based education we offer our students. Through the use of blended or hybrid courses—which combine face-to-face instruction with a digital learning environment—we believe there are opportunities for new and creative ways to use the face-to-face time in which faculty engage with students in the classroom. We also will have the opportunity to use the same digital learning environment to reach new student cohorts through online education, as we have been doing successfully in graduate professional education.

In addition, joining the edX consortium will give us access to large quantities of data that will be generated as students from around the globe engage in learning on the edX platform. Access to this data will allow our faculty to conduct cutting-edge research on how students learn, and how digital educational technologies affect learning.

During the last few months, our Council on Educational Technology and Learning Innovation (CETLI)—co-chaired by Beth Loizeaux, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs and Professor of English, and Azer Bestavros, Director of the Hariri Institute and Professor of Computer Science—has been an important sounding board as we have explored potential opportunities to participate in online learning.

The Council has submitted its report and we are reviewing the recommendations. We plan to release their report to the community by the fall and to begin implementing their recommendations.

We look forward to working with you and edX as we incorporate digital technologies into Boston University’s offerings and work to lead efforts in improving the quality of residential education at Boston University.

More information on the consortium can be found on the edX website or view the BU edX page.

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