SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva

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edX and Massachusetts Community Colleges Join in Gates-Funded Educational Initiative

EdX, the world’s leading online-learning initiative founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), today announced an innovative blended massive open online course (MOOC) offering at Bunker Hill and MassBay Community Colleges, the first community colleges to work with edX to bring a new teaching model to the classroom. Through this public/private initiative, community colleges will benefit from edX’s platform, connecting students with leading MOOC professors from around the world.

“Our technology and innovative teaching methods have the potential to transform the way community college students learn, both in and out of the classroom,” said Anant Agarwal, president of edX. “Our work with Bunker Hill and MassBay will enable us to work with other state institutions throughout the country to provide excellent educational opportunities on an ever-tightening budget.”

The collaboration between these two innovative community colleges, both of which have a history of offering online and hybrid courses, and edX was made possible through a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant is part of a $9 million investment announced in June 2012 to support breakthrough learning models in postsecondary education. EdX, Massachusetts and the Gates Foundation believe that investing in this initiative will pave the way for further innovations in online and on-campus learning for these and other community colleges around the country.

“MOOCs are an exciting innovation. They hold great promise, but are not without challenges– and we are still discovering their full potential,” said Dan Greenstein, Director of Postsecondary Success at the Gates Foundation. “We believe having diverse options for faculty and students that meet a wide array of learning needs and styles can enhance student engagement, improve educational outcomes, and increase college completion rates. We are eager to learn from and share the data that will be generated from these investments in MOOCs.”

“I thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and edX for understanding the importance of innovative thinking in order to better prepare our students for the jobs of the 21st century global economy,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “A stronger community college system fuels our economy by connecting well-prepared students with employers.”

Beginning in the spring 2013, Bunker Hill and MassBay Community Colleges will offer an adapted version of the MITx 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming course at their respective campuses. This unique learning experience will allow students to benefit from virtual courses, enhanced by in-class supporting materials and engaging breakouts. The collaboration aims to build upon edX and community college data-driven research to examine the advantages of a blended classroom model that utilizes edX’s MOOC content, consisting of innovative learning methodologies and game-like educational experiences.

“Community college professors are both teachers and mentors to our students. The blended classroom model allows our professors greater one-to-one contact with our students, allowing for greater course content mastery and application,” stated Dr. John O’Donnell, president of MassBay Community College.

According to BHCC President Mary L. Fifield, “The invitation to participate in edX comes on the heels of several highly successful classroom-based student success initiatives at our College that have increased student persistence by as much as 32 percent. The timing couldn’t be better.”

Through its open source platform, edX enhances teaching and learning by using research on how students learn and transformative technologies that facilitate effective teaching both on-campus and online. EdX’s ultimate goal is to provide access to life-changing knowledge for everyone around the world.

For more information or to sign up for a course, please visit www.edx.org.

To view a video on edX’s impact visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlNU60ZKj3I&feature=youtu.be

About Governor Patrick’s Community College Priorities

Governor Patrick has prioritized strengthening and unifying the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ community college system in order to be more responsive to employer needs for skilled workers and help get people back to work. This past summer, the Governor signed legislation that set aside $5 million for community colleges to be used for four main purposes: the development of efficiency measures that may include consolidation of IT platforms and services; the creation of innovative methods for delivering quality higher education that increases capacity, reduces costs and promotes student completion; engaging in statewide and regional collaborations with other public higher education institutions that reduce costs, increase efficiency and promote quality in the areas of academic programming and campus management; and improving student learning outcomes assessments set forth by the Board of Higher Education under the Vision Project.

About edX

edX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web. Based on a long history of collaboration and their shared educational missions, the founders are creating a new online-learning experience. Along with offering online courses, the institutions will use edX to research how students learn and how technology can transform learning—both on campus and worldwide. edX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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