Remarks by Drew Gilpin Faust at announcement of edX

Cambridge, Mass.

As delivered

Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to be here today with President Susan Hockfield to announce edX, a partnership between Harvard and MIT that will shape the future of learning and teaching on our campuses, and further extend our reach in the ever-expanding universe of digital education.

Beginning this fall, an array of courses taught by faculty at both of our institutions will be made available online through edX. Anyone with an Internet connection, anywhere in the world, can have access. Video lesson segments will be complemented by embedded quizzes and online laboratories, as well as opportunities to engage with the instructor and with classmates. Together, Harvard and MIT will be sharing knowledge more broadly, sharing the remarkable capacities of our universities far beyond Cambridge.

It is, however, what will happen on our campuses that will truly distinguish edX. Harvard and MIT are institutions devoted to research and to discovery. Through this partnership, we will not only make knowledge more available, but we will learn more about learning. We will refine proven teaching methods and develop new approaches that take full advantage of established and emerging technology, building on the insight we gain to enhance the educational experiences of students who study in our classrooms and laboratories. Ultimately, we will expand the scope of our efforts, collaborating with other universities to host a wide array of educational offerings on a single site.

I am excited about this partnership and the extraordinary opportunities it will create – for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at both of our institutions, as well as for learners worldwide. Two of my most important commitments as Harvard president have been to increase access to education and to strengthen teaching and learning. EdX will enable us to advance both of these purposes in ways we could not previously have imagined.

Many of us in this room can point to a teacher or a class that opened our minds in new and surprising ways, and awakened in us an interest or a passion that has shaped how we think, what we do, and how we see the world. Today’s announcement brings that possibility for transformation through education to learners across the globe, and it provides our faculty and students on campus with new tools and techniques for creating and transmitting knowledge. As we gather here, I think about the students in Massachusetts and around the world who will have access to a better education because of the partnership we launch today.

I want to express my gratitude to the members of the edX team from both Harvard and MIT for working so diligently to see this initiative through. Susan and Rafael – thank you for your unflagging support for the possibilities of Harvard and MIT collaboration – on edX as on so much else. Christine Heenan, Robert Iuliano, Katie Lapp, Anne Margulies from Harvard – you have been at once practical and visionary. And special thanks to Provost Alan Garber for leading the Harvard effort and to Dean Michael Smith for all you have done to make today a reality.

We are privileged to be here today to mark the creation of a new partnership between two of the world’s great universities, a partnership that will change our relationship to knowledge and to teaching, to the benefit of our students and of would-be students everywhere.

Now to tell you more about edX, my friend Susan Hockfield …