Episode Details S3 E5; Reimagining Education, At Massive Scale with Anant Agarwal of edX.

MOOCs are getting bad press – that student engagement and completion rates are very low. But at edX.or, 60% of all and paid-for work gets completed, it has 500 corporate customers up- and re-skilling their workforces, and its new modular ‘Micromasters’ credential, which offers 25-50% of a traditional Masters degree has been accepted as an onramp by over 90 global Universities as an on-ramp to their traditional Master’s programs. So maybe the idea of MOOCs isn’t that screwed after all? To find out, we engaged with the Founder and CEO at edX Professor Anant Agarwal, an Engineer, Computer Scientist and a real giant in online pedagogy to get his perspective. Our conversation ranges from how hard it is to change something that hasn’t really changed in hundreds of years – Education, to a reminder of what the ‘M’ and ‘O’ stand for – Massive, and Open, and how central those words are to what edX does, as well as the deep interest in the edX user base for critical thinking, communications and story-telling education as much as business or tech. We also hear about his early years studying Electrical Engineering at school at Madras, India, followed by his move to study Computer Science in the US, as well as:

  • the original MOOC idea, and how much it’s changed and 9-10 years a – improvements not everyone’s caught up with, it seems
  • a portrait of the average edX user and their motivations, extreme geographical spread and what they want from their experience
  • why technology is a double-edged sword
  • edX For Business – a new set of partnerships and opportunities
  • why it’s time to stop saying ‘soft,’ and start saying ‘powerful skills’ instead
  • the challenges of creating an appropriate self-directed Learning culture for the enterprise
  • the concept of Learning Science and the possibility of neuroscience as a way to tune up our understanding of how we learn
  • how edX is looking at how are brains our wired like active learning, and deriving highly suggestive analytics and data out of those EEGs.


Anant directs Learners to the main edX website to find out more, and if you’re particularly interested in its B2B side, business.edX.org, or to download the edX app; remember, you can start Learning for free, and that’s everything from power to business or tech skills.

One of the best resources for tracking MOOC offerings and the business models is ClassCentral.com. We love this site.

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