World’s Most Popular Professor to Teach EdX Course


professor-lewin

“If you take this course, your life will never be the same.”

Those are the words of Professor Lewin; the world’s most popular professor. The video lectures for his courses have more than 11 million views on YouTube. Bill Gates has watched all his lectures more than once. The New York Times has dubbed him a “web star”. He risks life and limb in demonstrations that leave a life-long impression on his students.

Professor Lewin’s Electricity and Magnetism course will start February 18th. It will be available online (for free) from a new organization called edX. Their objective is to offer high quality courses from the best professors at the best universities. They want to educate 1 billion people worldwide by 2023.

We are at the dawn of a sea change in education. Teachers and students of the future will benefit tremendously from the foundation that is being created today. There is evidence of this already. Anant Argawal, professor and president at edX, shares a story about the first course:

“We had four teaching assistants, and my initial plan was that they would spend a lot of time on the discussion forum, answering questions. One night in the early days, I was on the forum at 2 a.m. when I saw a student ask a question, and I was typing my answer when I discovered that another student had typed an answer before I could. It was in the right direction, but not quite there, so I thought I could modify it, but then some other student jumped in with the right answer. It was fascinating to see how quickly students were helping each other. All we had to do was go in and say that it was a good answer. I actually instructed the T.A.’s not to answer so quickly, to let students work for an hour or two, and by and large they find the answers.”

How people learn is changing. Barriers that existed for many years are being removed. Top notch educational content from the world’s best educators is being freely offered online. Students are collaborating in new ways with each other and with their teachers.

What is the future of education?

Do you think you’ll be able to get the same enrichment from virtual education as you would by spending 4 years at a university? Will organizations like edX be able to handle with the world’s appetite for learning? Have you gone online with the specific purpose of learning?

I’m looking forward to reading the answers to these questions (or just your thoughts on education technology) in the comments.

 

Update, 1/29/13: A big round of applause and thank you to everyone that commented. I learned a lot about what people think about virtual education. A common theme is the idea you can supplement the traditional college experience with virtual education. Online courses have the potential to reach lifelong learners of all ages. This could be a major success story for anyone with a passion for learning.

 

Update, 2/18/13: The Electricity & Magnetism starts today!

 

Photo by Flickr user MIT Physics Demos


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75 thoughts on “World’s Most Popular Professor to Teach EdX Course

  • Ed Healy

    As an avid user of Lynda, Groove3, Code Academy and a number of other online learning sources, I think that a large portion of the basic and domain knowledge students desire to acquire can be learned via virtual education at a fraction of the cost of the traditional university.

    Where I see a points of friction in the process are two particular areas: there is no built in method to ensure the necessary utilization of the knowledge in order to commit it to the students memory, and the likelihood that the expansion of options of subjects a student can freely learn about will create an increasing number of generalists/jack-of-all-trades.

    In regards to whether or not edX can satiate the world demand for knowledge: it depends entirely on how the courses are structured and ensuring that more advanced course offerings are available as the student moves past the introductory/basic courses available in each discipline.

  • Tania Pylyp

    I think the level of enrichment a student obtains from any type of education, whether virtual or in person largely depends on their own attitude, motivation, dedication, and drive. The complete formula probably includes the teacher and their skill level and enthusiasm, as well as the structure and requirements of the course, but #1 is definitely the student’s reasoning for wanting to learn, their ability to dedicate their time and focus, and their attitude towards the course. With this in mind, EdX can certainly transform education for those students who can self-motivate, who have the discipline, and the inner motivation, and who don’t require some in person nudging. I’ve never experienced this type of learning personally, so my opinions are at this point theoretical, but I’m not sure I would compare virtual learning so strongly with traditional learning. Can some people replace a 4 year university experience with a virtual education? Sure. But there are other aspects of learning in in-person settings that I do think are irreplaceable. That being said, I would definitely supplement normal methods of learning with these types of courses and I’m really inspired by how strong EdX and the edtech industry in general is becoming..

  • Mike Schroll

    The other day I realized that I had not purchased a book to learn new technology knowledge in a decade. Prior to that my entire high school and college career was built on buying and reading through books to get up to speed. The combination of advancing in my career, such that less broad topics don’t have books written about them, and certainly not fast enough to keep up with the evolution of technological advanced. The availability of quality educational content online has left me with excess resources to further my education.

    The real challenge will be understanding the motivational forces behind those who are interested in, and excited about furthering themselves — through education — vs those who have no such desire.

    Solve that mystery, and resources like EdX surely can flourish!

  • Regina O'Toole

    Great post! As a homeschooler from age 0 to 7th grade, I’m a fan of any resource that gives autodidacts like my self more options for learning. I’m an avid user of my local library and free educational resources. EdX is such a great resource that I think we need more of, covering all subjects and allowing all manners of interactive learning. But how well these resources work is largely dependent on the user. The professors, like Lewin, could be brilliant, but the student has to want to learn.

  • Bryan Ryczek

    This course looks awesome! It does seem like the user would be most engaged with this particular class from being in attendance, though.

    I have known about EdX since the idea was first related to the public and the value prop is quite clear: free courses from the best universities in the world. Even though I the program was up and running, I didn’t sign up until I was reminded by you, Sean, that EdX was out there for me.

    Thanks again Sean!

  • Kerrie McCarthy

    There’s an awesome shift in education that’s happening and I’m excited to see where it takes us. edX is building off of the momentum of the many many psuedo-autodidacts that have emerged in the wake of the internet’s growth. As our ability to share what we know improves, so too must our education system. I think this is one of the more improtant, but underestimated drivers of our economy today.

  • Sam @ The Second Lunch

    Sean, I think about this a lot. I see online education courses as a great way to supplement my education – a continuing ed program, or “grad school light”. I’m a strong believer in life long education.

    In the past year, I’ve taken several online courses, thru iTunesU, Codecademy, Lynda, and CreativeLive, as well as participating in many off-shoot e-courses. For a motivated self-starter, these courses suit me well, and you get out of them what you put in. After college, I also completed a two year nutrition studies course, where significant effort was put into making a robust social network – the piece that I currently see missing in most online education experiences.

    Now, I loved my four year liberal arts education, and I don’t believe that this can (or should) be replaced with an online experience. There is significant value in learning to sit down around a table with your peers, learn, listen, craft a coherent argument, and find your (physical) voice. That said, I don’t believe that you need to go to a four year college in order to be a successful, well-educated human being, and good online education has the power to provide access to something that should be a right, and not a privilege. (I was also thrilled to learn that my college (Wellesley) had signed onto EdX as a partner institution!)

    As an aside, one thing I worry about with online courses that are taken for credit: cheating. In a live educational setting, folks who cheat are more easily caught. I’ve known otherwise intelligent human being choose to cheat because the online masters program made it too easy to do so, and a masters tends to lead directly to a huge pay-raise (particularly in our public education system.) Yeesh.

  • Jess Archer

    I don’t know anything about online college but I know that my cousins in florida can take courses online for high school credit and drivers ed online. I wish I could take some online courses here in RI…then I can learn at my own pace and not have to leave my house. I can pick courses online I’m most interested in and benefit a lot!

    The only downside to online school is the temptation to go on other websites haha!

  • Devon D.

    Interesting questions. In short, I don’t think online courses will completely replicate the real-life experience, but that shouldn’t be their goal. Their objective should be to reward students who already have an appetite for self-education, and who appreciate the option to learn more. Sadly, in my experience, they don’t fulfill that role either.

    I took multiple online courses when I went to college, as they seemed like the perfect way to squeeze in units for someone who was working full time and going to school––I have zero positive anecdotes to share regarding those classes. It often felt like online education was something the professor was forced to “monitor” because the university required it of them. Regardless of my grade for those courses, I always thought I was short-changed on knowledge, and while the professors all expressed interest in a true connection, I had emails go unanswered, follow up efforts thwarted, etc.

    I really want online education to work because I think one of the beauties of the internet in general is its ability to spread knowledge to those who might otherwise not have it reach them. With that said, it will still require a committed pupil and teacher. Hopefully, Professor Lewin’s passion and talent will start the trend of digital education catching up with the internet.

  • Tina Yeung

    When I found out about EdX a couple of months ago, I was ecstatic. Why? Because I have a list of things I want to learn. I don’t want to have to join an online university like University of Phoenix to do it though. I’m not working towards a degree, I just want to gain more knowledge. I love that some EdX courses lists prerequisites but some don’t have. It lets me know if I can be successful at understanding the concepts of the course. It balances the feeling of taking a real university course and the online experience.

    I’m not surprised that if a student asks a question on a forum another student will answer, that’s what happens I ask a question on the Internet. It’s innate in me to want to help someone if I know the answer. EdX forums gathers people with knowledge and funnels them in the right direction.

    I don’t think EdX should aim to replace 4 years at a university. It’s a supplement for people who want to gain knowledge, but as it is, it doesn’t have the set list of courses to gain a degree or “master” in an area. EdX’s value to me is that I learn what I want, not what some paper tells me to learn.

    Because of the associations with other universities like Hardvard, Berkley, MIT, I, as a student, feel that I’m getting quality learning material. The Internet in general is a pool of information to be gained for those who are motivated to seek it. I’m glad EdX is directing online learning in a more easily accessible and topic-focused manner.

  • Tina.617

    Sean,
    I agree that edX is a fantastic way to learn about new things, and discover areas of interest. I do think that the curriculum design aspect that a great professor/educator brings to a student, is somewhere in the future. What is the way that someone new to a field, will acquire the skills set and knowledge that he/she needs, to achieve COMPETENCE. Expertise builds upon existing skills… is virtual learning enough?

  • Mayank Mishra

    I’ve taken a few of the programs at Coursera. I’ll vouch for the virtual classroom- the kind of student collaboration seen is just unparalleled. But the greatest thing is the pause button. Having the ability to pause-rewind-forward a lecture is everything I’ve ever wanted from my education.

    Thanks for profiling EdX- nice to see their impressive Ivy league lineup. Coursera better watch its back.

    I always find useful gems on this blog.

  • Steve Jain

    Although the role of MOOCs in the future of higher education is unclear, their standalone value is unquestionable.

    I recently embarked on a course of learning for data science, a field that requires considerable skills in statistics, mathematics, and computer science, all at the same time, and before MOOCs, there was a) no way I could dream of pursuing this career without spending the time and the money to go back to a traditional college and b) very limited relevant material at these traditional institutions (i.e., outdated curricula) even if I did decide to spend the time and the money to go back to school.

    I’m finishing up a course on Coursera now, have two more starting soon, and have another from edX starting in a couple of weeks. So far, it’s been pretty awesome. I can’t help but think how much more successful I would have been in college if I could rewind and replay any lecture on-demand. And to have vibrant, productive discussion forums about quizzes, lectures, and exercises made searchable and also available on-demand? It is simply invaluable, and while some may see these resources as ways for people to slack and freeload from others, I think it works oppositely: these resources are a huge help to those driven to succeed. If you’re a slacker, you’re not motivated enough to be on Coursera in the first place.

    Does the MOOC model sacrifice in-person interaction and intimacy for scale and economy? It absolutely does. Its value depends on what you value in a learning experience: access to world-class faculty and world-class peers for a sky-high price, opportunity to explore different subjects with the opportunity to meet lots of cool people while spending a couple of years of your life, or learning more up-to-date content from world-class professors with limited access to peers or professors at minimum cost in limited time.

    I’m not sure services like edX are ready to replace established institutions yet, at least in their current form, but they’re an extremely potent complement to schools and colleges for all kinds of people. Given their ever-increasing success, I’m confident their value will only grow.

  • T. Blix

    I didn’t know about this before reading this blog so I’m happy to see anything that breaks down the barriers (usually economic in nature) that the current education ‘system’ in place in the US imposes. Most of the learning I’ve done for myself in the last 6 years has been completely self-taught, and much of it via videos on the web, so I’m really happy to find out about edx courses.

  • Leo Chan

    This class is really cool, i have seen this before in another class, but definitely it is very interesting for students to learn about these demonstrations.

  • Byron Adams

    From what I’ve seen at the K-12 level, the blended learning model (schools that incorporate computer-based lessons in math and reading with traditional classrooms) has not performed as well as you might expect. It seems that video lessons and computer adaptive programs work best for the majority of students when they are used as a minor supplement to live instruction. I suspect this holds true for many students at the undergraduate level as well. That said, I think the more people with access to high quality educational content the better. My only hesitation is when it comes to mainstreaming online courses.

    It won’t be long before students want to apply biology or statistics courses offered by EdX or another MOOC towards their graduation requirements at a traditional college. This is the logical next step. We’ve already seen some universities move away from accepting Advanced Placement credits, which for decades have been considered as rigorous as college level classes. The question is can the EdXs of the world demonstrate that their courses match or exceed the rigor and outcomes of the same equivalent class offered on college campuses? Do they even want to?

  • Ty

    Thanks for posting this, Sean. EdX looks like another great tool for people eager to learn. With 5 billion people on the internet by 2020, it will be interesting to see how online education empowers people around the world.

  • Will

    For many people around the world edX and similar online offerings will be the only way to receive a top notch education.

    The U.S. higher education system has been a model for the rest of the world. But this model is rapidly becoming unsustainable due to rising tuition cost.

    edX can provide a solution for the rest of the world before their students incur $1,000,000,000,000 (yes, $1 Trillion) in debt, as the U.S. has. Rather than creating a physical network of campuses, countries can now leverage open courseware to provide a top tier higher education at a fraction of the cost.

    Given the right individual motivations (it is hard to stare at a computer for so long) an equal experience can be provided online. This last piece, individual motivations, is the enormous challenge that I believe still needs to be addressed.

  • Julie Schroll

    As someone who went to a state university (perhaps with less resources than a private university) I am a believer that education can take place in many different forms. The people who were in my classes were straight out of high school, 60 + years old and everywhere in between. They were made up of every religion and race you could think of and all of the students had had different experiences in life. Some of the best learning opportunities were from my classmates who shared their point of view with the class and made us realize different ways of looking and thinking about things and some of those things cannot be taught in a classroom.

  • Brendan Oneil

    As mentioned by many comments above, I think the education world is undergoing a massive uprooting. From organizations that are in one vertical like Codeacademy to sources like Khan Academy we are seeing a major shift in delivery of information.

    Also – one other service I am keeping an eye on is Memrise for learning.

  • Scott Kaufman

    Great post, Sean! And it’s exciting to see inspiring teachers like this take their talents online. I think to a certain extent what we’re seeing with online learning is an inevitable outgrowth of the Internet revolution. And while the democratizing elements of this are most welcome, I would hate to see us rush headlong into this new paradigm at the expense of eliminating traditional, campus-based, face-to-face learning. A huge part of the educational experience is consistent exposure to different people and ideas, and I think that effect is much more likely to occur in person, in a place where you know you’re going to be seeing the same people regularly.

    That said, I feel that online courses are a great complement to traditional learning, and I’m excited to see what EdX does with this you’ve a rapidly evolving platform.

  • JJ Kazakoff-Eigen

    I have been MOOCing for a few years now and I don’t intend to stop, especially since this seems to be the method by which education will happen for many people over the coming years.

    One of the big questions is if it will truly replace traditional education, complement it, or if it will be another method that will develop its own culture. (ie, some people will be traditionally educated, others will be MOOC educated, and some employers will value one over the other for their own reasons).

    Those of us who have already been traditionally educated will have the benefit of seeing both and seeing the revolution unfold. Apparently, it will be televised.

  • Lucy Meyers

    This looks awesome, and ressembles the model of education I was brought up to, in Belgium. With the drive to learn and succeed, nothing can stop you, and “buying” your degree isn’t an option. The downside of this model is the lack of personal/physical communication between peers and professors. The trend in place with MOOCs is that they are a lot more popular within technical and scientific fields of study, which are low communication sectors.
    Personally, I would use EdX to learn a technical subject. As a communication professional and language education enthousiast, I strongly believe that live interactions are key to optimal learning in those areas. That being said, online education is making it possible for people to learn and practice a language live, without the need to move to another country.
    This initiative is amazing, and I look forward to share the news with some my friends 🙂

  • Bonnie Gibson

    I would have to agree with many of the comments in this thread. I believe education is what you make of it and how driven you are. What I like about edX is the opportunity it offers people, especially interested learners who would not be able to afford an education or have the time to devote to one.

    As with Sam, I would have to agree on cheating and specifically cheating in regards to someone using a course to give the said student an advancement based on the course.

    It would be interesting to know how many students start an edX course that go from start to completion.

  • Laurenne

    I’m really happy to see more resources like edX popping up. Even if you attending or are still attending a 4 year university, online learning enables people to opt into learning what they want to versus what they have to. I also think it plays in allowing those without access to traditional education the chance to further themselves mentally.

    I’m excited to see where the world takes this new technology and how this will disrupt the traditional process.
    Great post!

  • Victor Wang

    This is incredible Sean, great post.

    I firmly believe that initiatives such as EdX are a major driver for social equity in the future. I’ve always thought that one of the fundamental roles of higher education is to broaden a student’s exposure to the world. Education allows us to grasp greater possibilities – it lets us see what we don’t know and lays the framework for growth that allows us to reach those previously unknowable goals. EdX’s mission to make knowledge accessible is far more important than simply the technical material that students will acquire. EdX will broaden the visions of people who never had their eyes opened to much of the world. Once eyes are open, anyone can devote themselves to a worthwhile pursuit. And that is something truly incredible.

  • Chris Requena

    Online education from EdX, Udemy, Skillshare, iTunes and other resources is great because it gives people the opportunity to learn, when they otherwise may not have been able to. Education is becoming scalable, which is great for all, especially as more and more people connect to the internet around the world.

  • Bob Cavezza

    I firmly believe there is no replacing the experience of being on a college campus. With that being said, I’ve learned a great deal of information from MITX courses after I graduated. I still use their computer science courses to help round out my knowledge every now and then.

  • Harvey Simmons

    Nice post! Virtual education and university study each provide their own value, but it is the in-the-classroom environment, that online programs like EdX can provide, that will help close that gap of the static v. interactive experience. I’ve enjoyed using programs like team Treehouse in the past, and look forward to keep fine-tuning my skills through digital.

  • Dave Bisceglia

    edX is a great initiative! It makes me much more confident in our future.

    In response to the question about how an online education compares to an “on-campus” education, I strongly believe that the digital classroom will evolve to be as immersive (if not more) than the physical classroom. With that said, the friendships, social skills and general life skills that one develops and refines while on campus should not be overlooked.

    edX is a great resource for folks who do not have the resources for an on-campus education and a catalysts for those that do.

  • Carolyn McRae

    The future of education is definitely TBD. Students are paying TOO much for college, only to acquire TOO few applicable skills, and earn TOO little during their first years out of school to pay back student loans. In a fundamental way, this is not sustainable .. something must change. Luckily, technology has opened doors, windows and skylights to new opportunities for both administering and receiving skill-building education. Organizations (such as EdX) are bravely and creative tackling the challenge at hand, spear-heading an “Education Revolution”, of sorts. I admire such initiatives and am eager to watch history unfold.

  • Mike L

    I’m pretty excited to see how online education will continue to evolve. The ability for anyone across the world to have access to our greatest educators is an unbelievable achievement with technology.

    The only question for me centers around the experiential component of education. I’ll be interested to see how companies like EdX can tackle that problem as well.

    Cool stuff, great write-up.

  • Brian Wang

    Like Abby, I frequently go online with the specific purpose of learning and I appreciate the ever improving options. I’ve never been a fan of paywalls for academic journals and as an undergrad, I appreciated accessing JSTOR online through the university license. I applauded JSTOR for starting to open access and I started using Open Courseware as soon as I discovered it. Salman Khan told Stephen Colbert he consults Wikipedia to learn more about the topics he taught, then he’d drill deeper with footnotes.

    Those fortunate enough to attend college will likely benefit from doing so. Tony Hsieh mentioned how the chances for serendipitous encounters are much greater on campuses, replicating that online seems difficult. I think online educational resources like edX will complement the college experience not supplant them.

  • Adam Sigel

    I’m very excited to see what becomes of online education. At the moment, I see it as an excellent supplement, but it’s entirely conceivable that it could one day become the norm for education.

    After I graduated college with my English degree, I got a job in finance and realized I needed to round myself out a little bit. I took a basic accounting course through the University of Phoenix online and got what I needed out of it. This was years ago, so the technology was poor, and the engagement was low. I followed a class plan and there was a forum to share with other students, but it didn’t come anywhere close to replicating what I feel is the essential community aspect of learning.

    Technology has the ability to share information faster and connect more people than any other platform. The trick will be implementing solutions that fit the needs of different societies, students, and subjects, and replicate—or improve upon—the shared experience of the classroom.

    What I wonder about are the unintended consequences. A generous 20% of the valuable lessons I got in college happened in the classroom. I also learned how to do laundry, cook (a little), deal with roommates, pay bills, hail cabs, drink (responsibly), and budget myself. I learned how to be an adult. As classes increasingly shift to the Internet, what happens to the other 80% of college?

  • John A.

    The evolution of online learning really has led to great lectures, discussions, and all that go into the teaching and learning processes. The ability to include more people in education without regard to where they are, when they’re able to ‘attend class’, etc. are certainly a great advance over the more traditional ‘delivery mechanisms.’

    My own experience with teaching as an adjunct professor in the evening program at a local university is that the hardest problem is in evaluation of individual student performance. When the entire process is remote and you don’t have the opportunity to mix in some ‘in person’ tests, discussions, etc., it is very, very difficult to know that the student submitting the work actually did the work.

    I know that even in person teaching and testing has its grading challenges. But with the currently mainstream online teaching where ‘discussions’ are often text only and problem set/essay/etc. submissions are submitted without having interacted with the student ‘in person’ (or at least by video/Skype), I always questioned whether I was as certain of who did the writing/work/research as when I taught an ‘in person’ class.

    I know that there’s often some doubt who did programming assignments, papers, etc. where you only see the ‘output’. When you’ve ‘met’ the student either in person or by ‘live’ interaction online, you can get a sense of the student’s approach and see some reflection of progress, etc. as the course progresses where you can (you hope) see some kind of correlation between the personal interaction and the submitted work. However with a ‘text only’ online environment, you lose a bit of the connection between the person behind the keyboard and the person who’s asking for credit for the work.

    The good news is that technological advancements are gradually making online classes more ‘live’ and more like ‘in person’ classes. With some known way to independently authenticate that the person you’re seeing and communicating with is the person who’s getting credit for the class, I don’t see this as an unsolvable problem. Just another hurdle to overcome.

    I believe that online education’s benefit of expanding the scope of access to education will only fully be realized when the mechanisms for giving students credit for work they do themselves. It is this fair egalitarianism that will let online education meet its full ambition of expanding access to education for all.

  • Neil

    I never heard of Professor Lewin before reading this article but now I am very interested in trying out EdX and signing up for one of his courses!

  • Mike

    I’m interested to see how online education progresses and how it will be received by the academic community. I have taken online courses through Itunes U and have found them to be great programs, although I missed the classroom environment. It is clear that learning can happen outside of the classroom from these online courses, but I’m not yet convinced that they will be accepted for candidates joining the workforce in the near future.

  • Ryan

    This is a great post.

    I had my eye on the edX program from the first time I heard about it. I took the CS6.00, Intro to Computer Science course. These kinds of resources are invaluable to non-traditional students who don’t have the time or money to spend at a University. I know it was instrumental in helping me transition into a new career. It’s the access to top flight professors and the learning platform that can bring so much value to everyone who has the desire to learn.

  • Jon Prusik

    This guy is great – if you haven’t seen his lectures online; do so – they are fantastic.

    I think when it comes to education, many people are trapped by the idea that they need school to learn anything or that education only has value if they get a certificate at the end. The great thing about the Internet and services like EdX is that education is now available to anyone; not being able to learn a new skill is fast becoming a poor excuse not to execute an idea or start a business.

  • Michael

    Wow, this is awesome! I’ll definitely be checking this course out, as well as other EdX courses. Love how education is finally being disrupted. This type of delivery of courses adds so much value to society.

  • Eric

    As someone who was less than pleased with their college curriculum, online education allows me to expand my knowledge in the areas that I feel are most interesting and important. Browsing through the edX offerings, I noticed a number of technology focused courses that don’t fit in with a traditional computer science curriculum, but would have been extremely valuable to me. I’m grateful that educators are willing to make this invaluable material open to everyone!

  • Bob

    The future of education is tied to the computer. How we develop the process is going to change and keep changing. The typical college today is too expensive and is not meeting the needs of the people. The job market is getting more and more technical and changing constantly. the answer is courses that can keep up with technology and provide people with knowledge through out their lives. Edx is the start of the future

  • Adri

    Great post! I think it’s a great way to learn. Though it doesn’t “replace” the same experience you get at a university (because there are lots of other things you learn at a brick and mortar vs. online), I believe you can still get a quality education from it. I’m anxious to try it out myself, actually!

  • Gregg Cochran

    This is the FUTURE of education. It is scalable and offers access to anyone who wants to learn. I am very excited for the future of EdX and this space. Thanks for sharing!

  • Andrea de Melo

    I really love the idea of online learning. I fork over hundreds of dollars a month to pay for my student loans and I often think was it really worth it? Colleges are constantly racking up tuition and book prices, but I’m hopeful that this online learning trend will change things for the better! Great post Sean 🙂

  • Joan Højberg

    After reading quite a few of the comments I can only say that I am in total agreement. Education is shifting and knowledge is becoming easier to access. It’s a different way of learning and I am very excited to see where this is going and how EdX will run with this opportunity and challenge. Thanks for a great post Sean!

  • Katherine

    Love this post Sean, edX is such an awesome idea! Having access to these amazing professors from top tier schools is so powerful to anyone out there looking to further their learning on their own time. I think it’s awesome that they’ve signed on such a well known professor to teach through edX.

    I have taken online courses before and while it was great to listen and watch lectures from the comforts of pjs in my dorm room, attending class in person allowed me to meet new friends, participate in classroom discussion, and build relationships with my professors (some of whom I still keep in touch with to this day). Like many of previous commenters, I am not confident at this point an online learning program could deliver everything a full time, on campus experience can.

  • Kelly McDonald

    As someone who would’ve stayed in school their entire life, edX makes me giddy. No more student loan debt AND I get to learn all the cool stuff I want?! Sign me up. How many people say “If I could do college over..” well this is your opportunity to explore the path not traveled. I went to business school, but love science. edX gives me a chance to expand that interest.

  • Andy

    Fantastic. It’s great to see Universities moving towards a system where they’re disseminating this information widely and freely rather than just privileging the people that give them hundreds of thousands of dollars for the full experience. Everybody should have the experience of seeing a truly great, passionate professor, in action.

  • Jacob

    What a great video! I have to say one of my biggest concerns about online classes is that there would be a boredom factor – how long could you sit in front of a computer without getting distracted? Would students really feel engaged with the professor? I think that question is pretty much answered by the video. So much energy in that lecture hall! I know for a fact none of my undergraduate classes featured a professor swinging from the roof. edX for the win!

  • Dan

    I think both the message itself and the method of delivery both play an extremely important role in the educational process. Sure, a lot of topics can be successfully taught online, but I can only imagine that Professor Lewin’s demonstrations remain more memorable to those experiencing them in class rather than on YouTube.

    I’m all for maximizing educational potential and minimizing costs with technology, so I’m interested to see where the future takes us, so I’m interested to see how classroom experiences delivered via the web compare with realworld settings.

  • KAA01581

    As a student, I believe online learning fills an important niche for many. Technology offers compensatory strategies for all types of students — it can entertain, be time managed, and repeated, with or without sound or subtitles, for example!

  • Darshini

    Great post, Sean! I successfully completed an edX course and found it really useful. I think edX does such a fantastic job of providing access to quality education by removing several barriers to education such as location, time and cost. While I love online courses and will continue to take them for professional development, I agree with some of the earlier comments. I am not sure whether this can completely replace the traditional classroom learning especially for certain subject areas which are better taught with live interactions.I am excited to see edx play a key role in the future of online education.

  • Mary Catherine

    I traveled miles and miles to just get credit for a few college courses. It would have saved me money and stress to do all of the courses on-line, plus the fact one can choose the college or university from which you could take the courses. When I was 9 months pregnant, I had finished the bio lab, but then had to clean off my car and travel 20 miles to get home. No labor started, but I did get a B+ in the course. Most of us treasure the time, effort, and cost we can derive from take course from home with the convenience of the computer. Go edex! Make more courses available to all of us anxious learners.

  • Ivan SIfrim

    Excellent post!

    Most of the learning I have been doing for the past 2 years have come from online courses. I am a big advocate for them mostly because of the ability to rewind and soak in more knowledge than you ever could before. MIT has recognized this with Open MIT. Harvard is now getting in on it, and edX is perfectly positioned to be another leader in the field.

    Great post, Sean. Keep it up!

  • Marie

    This is the first time I’m hearing about edX and I’m intrigued at its capabilities. Having access to free education online, especially when the world’s best educators are the teachers, is amazing.

  • Chris M.

    Hey Sean, very interesting. I am in the process of going back to college and have been faced with the decision of taking certain courses on line or going back to school. Although I am excited to try my first online class, mainly for the convenience of taking a class in my pajamas, I am concerned how I will do. I am the type who (in the past at least) has need that person to person contact. When I am stuck on a problem or concept, I need to have things spelled out and am not sure an online course can provide that immediate attention. That being said, I am looking forward to the experience and am hopeful that it will work out.

    One thing I took from your post was how the professor was excited at how quickly and how willing the students were to assist one another. That paired with the video has me very excited to get to my first class!!!

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  • Shannon Sweetser

    I will always be a proponent of transparency in education. I wish more of the world’s knowledge was made free and available online and that students of the world could consume as much higher education as they choose at the push of a button. The Kahn Academy is a great case study for the “If you post educational material, learners will come” — and not only will they come, they will also help shape the learning experience for other learners. Kahn started with one video, and thanks to feedback from users who asked for specific lessons and asked great questions that one video has grown to hundreds of videos from Kahn and other educators like him. The best part about a resource like edX is that there are no limits to how much information can be shared. People can consume at their own pace, watch a lesson over and over again, rewind and fast forward and experience learning in a way that is dynamic, social and engaging.

  • Mitch

    Online learning is going to be a huge part of moving forward for education. With many aspects of life already in the mobile space, people are looking for, above many other requirements, activities to be convenient and tailored to fit one’s need. edEx does this and will be a force in the future. Exciting experience. Educating the people. edEx.

  • Ben Snow

    Awesome piece. edX is here to stay. Although I have never attended an online course I look forward to exploring the possibility and continued enrichment this approach has to offer. With the mounting costs of college and the fact I just had my first child, I am terrified to see what these costs will look like in the future.
    Seeing that I can attend amazing courses, taught by inspiring professors, all while being at home and at my convenience, sign me up. Instant gratification coupled with immediate access to T.A’s, students and professors. Just as good as attending live but all in the luxury of one’s own home.
    Thanks edX for changing the way we learn and you can count me in because continuing education is what will help all of us get to where we want to be in our lives.

  • Adam H.

    I went to school for international relations and history, and now work in high tech. What do you think has been the primary way by which I learned my new skills? Internet resources and online education. It’s ranged, too–from skills focused classes focused on the fundamentals of a programming language, to courses that cover more traditional topics, like the one described above and analysis of algorithms. I think many of the commenters have noted that our understanding of education itself is in flux, and no single resource will meet all our educational needs. But this is unquestionably one of those resources I want to have around to satisfy my need for a diverse educational diet.

  • Aeron G.

    Great post Sean. I’m enrolled in two edX courses for this spring, and the flexibility of the course offerings is great! I’m working full-time, so it’s great to have an instructor guided online learning channel. I’m excited about edX and the future of edTech & e-learning in general!

  • Sara Sigel

    I love all things online education and I am excited to see where EdX, EdTech, Udacity, and more end up in the future. Any time you can bring life changing courses like the one above to a larger audience is GREAT!

  • Diwa Iyer

    While Khan Academy’s approach of ‘granular teaching’ has been truly revolutionary, traditional lectures can still be very useful in an asynchronous setting. I’m referring to the student’s freedom to learn at their own pace: pause, skip, rewind, jump around, etc.

    In other words, even without changing the way classes are taught, just changing the way they are consumed can vastly improves the usefulness for the learner.

    Sounds like EdX wants to unlock courses from the iTunes ecosystem. That is a very good thing!

  • Rob Ciampa

    Nice piece. My children are naturally combining their classroom learning with online learning. Surprisingly, they’re starting to ask why there’s a quality difference in teachers. That’s a longer note…