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MITx: 3 Cheers and 3 Questions
December 19, 2011 - 8:00pm

MITx is very big news. For a great overview of MIT's plans, check out Audrey Watters' excellent writeup MITx: The Next Chapter for University Credentialing?  The MIT student paper The Tech also has a great article. The MIT press release and accompanying FAQ also go into detail about MITx.

3 Cheers and 3 Questions for MITx:

Cheer 1 - Leadership: All of us in higher ed should take a moment to recognize and commend MIT for the institutions continued bold leadership in higher education and the open education movement. The wonderful thing about higher ed is that when one institution innovates it grows the pie for all of us - we all benefit.   

Cheer 2 - Risk Taking: What I love most about MITx is MIT leaders' willingness to learn as they go. Rather than endlessly talk about the next innovation that will make it possible to offer high quality postsecondary education to large numbers of people at affordable prices, MIT is actually doing something. I have no doubt that the MITx model will change and morph over time, but the only way to figure this out is to run lots of experiments and be willing to fail, learn, and evolve.   

Cheer 3 - Recruiting:  A program like MITx raises my opinion of MIT as a parent (my kids launch in 2015 and 2017), potential donor and even a potential employee.  The market for higher ed talent is worldwide, and the best people are motivated by mission and culture. MITx is a clear stake in the ground about MIT's values.

Question 1 - Platform?: From what I understand from the articles, MITx will run on a new platform that MIT is developing on its own, and that will be made open source. Is this a totally new platform? Are existing open source LMS platforms like Sakai or Moodle utilized at all? What platforms will be utilized for course videos? Again, a new platform, or an existing open source lecture capture and video management platform like OpenCast?

Question 2 - Partnerships?: Will MIT be engaging in partnerships with for-profit providers of technology and content? I think that as an industry higher ed often misses out on opportunities to work with for-profit providers as true partners and colleagues. It may be in the interest of a proprietary education provider (Phoenix or Capella or Kaplan) to contribute content and materials to MITx, a partnership that would benefit learners and the for-profit brands. Working with Google, or Microsoft of Pearson may provide a route to scale the educational opportunities beyond the limited courses that MITx will be able to offer.   I'm not suggesting trading the educational mission of MITx for a commercial mission, only that educational and commercial missions can be complementary and compatible if structured correctly.

Question 3 - Research? It seems that MITx is committed to becoming world leaders in the discipline of studying the intersection of education and technology. That is wonderful, and it will be exciting to witness the research and publication that will be made possible by the data and experience generated by MITx.  What sort of investments will MIT make in the discipline of education delivery science? How can MIT leverage MITx to create a network of change agents and a body of literature and research based best practices to improve the quality and lower the costs of higher education?

What cheers and questions do you have for MITx?


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