MIT has received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support edX, MIT’s new partnership in online education with Harvard University.
Through edX, the two institutions are collaborating to build a global community of online learners. It is anticipated that near-term course offerings from a range of MIT and Harvard schools will be included on the edX platform.
The new Gates Foundation grant will support efforts to develop and offer a new, free prototype computer science online course through edX, and to partner with a postsecondary institution that targets low-income young adults to experiment with use of the course in a “flipped classroom” where lectures take place outside the classroom and homework is done in class.
MIT and Harvard have committed to a combined $60 million ($30 million each) in institutional support, grants and philanthropy to launch edX, which is overseen by a not-for-profit organization owned and governed equally by the two universities. EdX is headed by Anant Agarwal, former director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who led the development of the MITx platform under the leadership of MIT Provost and President-elect L. Rafael Reif.
EdX will release its learning platform as open-source software so it can be used by other universities and organizations that wish to host the platform themselves. Because the learning technology will be available as open-source software, other universities and individuals will be able to help edX improve and add features to the technology.
The new grant to MIT is part of $9 million in new Gates Foundation funding.
The new grantees — which also include EDUCAUSE, the MyCollege Foundation, the University of the People, and the League for Innovation in the Community College — are employing a diverse range of strategies and features, including competency-based learning, online and hybrid formats, open education resources, adaptive assessment and social media. Each of these grants is part of a larger effort to spread best practices and models across the postsecondary sector.