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edX Global Forum 2015

We just wrapped up an invigorating and collaborative two days of discussions, sharing and working sessions at the edX Global Forum in Washington D.C. We thank our generous host, Georgetown University, as well as the edX partners, learners, professors, researchers and technologists who joined us from around the world to share their inspiring and thought-provoking experience and expertise.

The Forum began with a provocative conversation on the current state of education and its future potential with Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Smith discussed the connection between open government, open technology and open education and the need to increase access to education opportunities. In their keynote discussion, she told Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX,

“the force of including everyone in learning, is what this is all about,” adding “inclusion and innovation are the same thing.”

Throughout the event, we heard from our partners’ about their successes and innovations with online learning—such as Arizona State University awarding university credit to the first Global Freshman Academy learner, engaging learners worldwide, and using MOOCs beyond the university setting. We proudly welcomed more than 27 new partners to the event. Global Forum attendees also participated in a memorable active-learning session to discuss the burning issues in higher education online, on campus and on a global scale.

During the meeting’s two-day program, panels and discussions dove into the future of credentials, education and skills gaps and where opportunity lies, the continued importance of humanities and liberal arts, an evolving educational landscape and social justice around access to education.

We also heard from our learners who participated in the panel “Blended Learning: Student Voices,” a highlight of the event. University students from around the world, shared their experiences of learning in blended classrooms.

They offered helpful insights and suggestions to improve the learning experience and highlighted what works, including the flexibility MOOCs offer and learning efficiency. As one panelist put it,

“you can’t hit pause on your professor,” but blended learning allows you to replay and re-watch key concepts on your own time.

Another panelist added that the blended format

“made the learning experience a lot better. I wouldn’t have gotten as much out of it as I did, if it wasn’t for edX – thank you!”

Josh Kim, Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, also weighed in on the impact online learning is having on the residential experience.

The evolution of open online education, and the technologies and methodologies that we use to teach open online courses at scale, are certainly part of the edX and MOOC story.

I’d argue, however, that the true innovations of MOOCs are not those found inside the open online courses.

The most important innovations catalyzed by MOOCs have very little to do with technology, or even pedagogy. Rather, they are innovations at the level of institutional organizational and cultural change.

Happily, these organizational and cultural changes all result in more attention and investment in residential learning.

Read on for more of Josh Kim’s perspective on the true innovation of MOOCs >>

We were honored to have so many of our global partners join us and Georgetown University in D.C. to reflect on and shape the future of education. For more information on the Global Forum, check out #FutureEDU and snapshots from the event below. We look forward to sharing more news and updates in the coming weeks. Thank you to all who made this extraordinary event possible.


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