This article originally appeared in the Harvard Gazette.
“This is the start of the golden age of education. This is as big as it gets. Never have I seen a time in my life where education has been this exciting,” said edX President Anant Agarwal. “This is a great time to be in education and a great time to make an impact.”
Agarwal, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 1988, delivered that bold message to a capacity house at Longfellow Hall Tuesday evening in an Askwith Forum hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education on how online education has begun to change the way that people think about learning.
Since the nonprofit partnership between Harvard and MIT launched last fall with its first course, a class on circuits that drew nearly 155,000 students, edX has grown to serve 1.4 million people who have participated in online courses offered by 29 collaborating universities around the world. HarvardX classes alone have drawn more than 500,000 registered users. Agarwal has often stated his personal goal of eventually reaching a billion students.
“Some people look at a number like a billion and see exaggeration,” said HGSE Dean James Ryan during his introduction of Agarwal. “I see it as the kind of aspiration we need to achieve universal access to education, to ensure every child and young adult around the world has the knowledge and skills necessary to lead a successful and fulfilling life.”
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