Anant Agarwal: Why MOOCs (Still) Matter

Education hasn’t changed. What’s changed is access. The head of edX, Anant Agarwal, makes the case that MOOCs still matter — as a way to share high-level learning widely and supplement (but perhaps not replace) traditional classrooms.

Agarwal says that the first course offered by edX on circuits and electronics was taken by 155,000 students throughout the world, with 7,200 students graduating. Agarwal says he would have to teach two semesters every year for 40 years to reach that number of students.

These staggering numbers—155,000 is more than the number of alumni in MIT’s 50-year history—is proof that students want to learn. The communication of the millennial age is digital, and Agarwal simply makes the case to not fight it in the classroom.

The key ideas that make MOOCs work:

  • active learning
  • self pacing
  • instant feedback
  • gamification
  • peer learning

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Yvonne Chan

Yvonne Chan

Yvonne is a writer for Edtech Times who is most interested in technology's role in culture. When she is not combing the web for the latest in educational technology, she is reading classic literature or watching the game on TV. You may know her from Gradeable,, Emerson College, Busa Wine & Spirits, UMass Dartmouth, or Burlington High School.