Why I’m Excited for the Future of Education

Why I’m Excited for the Future of Education

We at edX are optimistic that online teaching and learning is now the norm, as we’ve been building towards this future since 2012.

Focus on India: the Critical Opportunity for Education's Future

We have entered a new frontier in higher education - one where online is no longer the second best. This change was made most markedly by the rapid pivot to remote learning due to COVID, but it's here to stay and will continue to fuel the next 20, 30 years of education and beyond. In fact, it is going to be critical in India, where government policies aim to improve employability by providing more learning opportunities and see up to 50% of university-age students attending higher ed institutions by 2035. To meet this demand, universities are increasingly recognizing and granting credit for online programs developed within India and around the world. While the circumstances to make this shift happen were unprecedented, we at edX are optimistic that online teaching and learning is now the norm, as we’ve been building towards this future since 2012. Let me share a little about that journey so that you, too, can join in our excitement.

A platform rooted in science and outcomes

From the beginning, we built the edX platform and the learning experience it offers to optimize for high-quality teaching and learning at scale. We knew a future would come - we just didn’t realize how soon - where the line between work and life, or learning and life, would blur so much that people would demand that learning happen virtually, without sacrificing quality.

With this vision, we set out to ensure that every edX learning experience is grounded in cutting-edge cognitive science that facilitates active learning. Designed by our team of learning experts, in partnership with faculty from the world’s top universities, more than two dozen distinct learning features assemble into an engaging, transformative experience that results in real outcomes.

Active learning is when learners engage, apply, and reflect immediately on the knowledge they have gained. For example, completing a multiple-choice question or responding to a discussion prompt immediately after being introduced to a new concept. Active learning results in better knowledge retention and learner outcomes.

Accelerating a new initiative in response to COVID-19

Let’s fast forward a bit to March 2020. When universities worldwide closed their campuses, they had to be nimble and pivot to offer learning experiences online. Everything that edX had been building prepared us to help at this moment. We took our accumulated knowledge about education and its delivery to accelerate the development of a new initiative: edX Online Campus and our free offering, Online Campus Essentials.

edX Online Campus brought our vision for the future of education to life in a way that promises relevant, engaging, high-quality learning for all. It brings the best of edX to every university globally, empowering staff and students to get the learning they need when and where they want it. 

In India, we’ve seen growing acceptance of the quality, flexibility, engagement and oversight afforded by online learning. For example, 20% of a degree program can be delivered in an online format, and the University Grants Commission allows for fully online degree programs. The incredible thing about the network of institutions that use Online Campus is that they empower each other to accelerate their own online learning offerings. It's exciting to see an ecosystem forming out of necessity but thriving out of innovation. Inspired by the two primary use cases we see from the network, we've recently put together a playbook for educators and administrators that lays out a framework for using Online Campus for blended and independent learning at any institution.

Looking forward

The beauty of the frameworks outlined in the playbook by the users of Online Campus is that it's proof that we can all leverage online teaching to its fullest potential and help students reach their goals. Despite the tremendous challenges we have faced over the past year, I find myself excited and optimistic for the future of higher education. As a professor myself, I have seen how the teaching community adapted and transformed to put the needs of our learners and students first while learning a lot about ourselves in the process.

Learn more about Online Campus

About the Author
Author: Anant Agarwal
Anant Agarwal
Founder and CEO of edX, Professor at MIT

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