Boston benefits from edX’s online learning initiatives

Boston benefits from edX’s online learning initiatives

Two recent initiatives from edX, a nonprofit focused on researching and providing online learning opportunities through its open-source technology, have shown it to be a leader in online education. edX is focused on transforming online learning and educating students of all ages, social statuses and incomes worldwide. Its courses have been used to teach more than 900,000 students, according to University World News – and that number is about to get even larger. It is also focusing resources on helping teachers discover new ways to utilize technology.

edX helps teachers learn about online education
In January, Harvard University's edX program provided graduate students with the opportunity to study how they could use technology in their work. The course, "Technology-Enabled Teaching and Learning," paired students with mentors who helped them develop a project that focused on incorporating technology into their teaching or researchHarvard hopes to offer the seminar annually, reported the Harvard Gazette.

"We need to be training the future faculty of the world, who are our graduate students, in understanding digital technologies, how they apply to education, and what the possibilities are," said Katie Vale, director of the academy technology group, who led the academy, in an interview with the Gazette.

The graduate students came to the program with different goals, from incorporating technology into their work to improving classroom management. Some of their projects focused on:

  • Integrating information (timelines, multimedia) into a web-based resource for students studying the history of the British Empire
  • Developing an online resource to allow students to find and access objects from Harvard's collections of old texts, archeological artifacts and other items
  • Transforming a two-week architecture course for incoming graduate students into an online course

The seminar involved four hours of instruction a day, with visits from a range of faculty members who focused on instructional design, assessment methods, library resources, using digital images, online tools and copyright law. The graduate students left excited and with new ideas for incorporating technology into their work.

edX helps kids learn through online education
edX recently announced a partnership with the City of Boston that will allow Boston residents to take online classes for free. Boston's Mayor, Thomas Menino, said that the City will provide BostonX sites at community centers, libraries and local schools, where students will have access to classroom computers. The courses will offer students various learning opportunities, including:

  • Basic computer training
  • Support for internships
  • Career counseling
  • Job transitioning assistance
  • Online learning training

​​BostonX will also offer classes that help to eliminate skills gaps. Additionally, students who successfully complete courses will be awarded certificates for mastering certain topics.

"EdX's innovative content, learning methodologies and game-like laboratories and teaching methods are transforming education, from 16-year-old students in Bangladesh, to community college students at Bunker Hill and MassBay, and now learners across Boston," said Anant Agarwal, President of edX. "We're thrilled to be able to partner with Mayor Menino and the City of Boston to provide this first-ever experience and hope that this idea will spread and create a number of CityX's around the world, including Cambridge, Massachusetts where edX was founded."

Would you enroll in free online classes if they were being offered in your community? What kinds of courses would you want to take? Please let us know by commenting!

About The Author

Heman Mehta

Heman, aka: He-Man, is the "Master of Deep Freeze" and VP of Product Management. He has been with Faronics for more than 10 years and is (of course) the biggest evangelist of Deep Freeze. When not living the "PM Lifestyle", you'll find him traveling the world—his last count was at about 38 countries visited.

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