CT 2014 Innovator Awards Presentation & Keynote Session—Anant Agarwal: Reinventing Education’ #CampusTech


Anant Agarwal is the CEO of edX presenting ‘Reinventing Education’ at the2014 Campus Technology Conference

The morning keynote began with the presentation of the 2014 Campus Technology Innovators Awards.

Congratulations to the following institutions!

  • Kennesaw State University – New Learning Models Virtual Assessment Center
  • City Colleges of Chicago – Data Analytics Open Book
  • PAR Framework – Student Systems and Services Predictive Analytics and Reporting Framework
  • Georgia Institute of Technology – Student Services, AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center
  • University of Washington – MyPlan Integrated Planning and Advising System
  • Marist College – Teaching and Learning, The Fold
  • NYU Silver School of Social Work – TorchTech
  • University of Oklahoma – One University Digital Initiative
  • Penn State University – DNA Compiler
  • University of Denver – Anderson Academic Commons (Penrose Library) Renovation
  • NYU Stern School of Business – Langone Lab 

Keynote: Reinventing Education


EdX is a non-profit, open source enterprise founded by MIT and Harvard in 2012. When we launched edX as a MOOC (massive open online courses) portal, our mission was to increase access to quality education, conduct research into how students learn, and improve on campus teaching and learning. While that three-part mission remains constant, this presentation will provide an overview of how the edX platform has expanded and evolved in new, unpredictable ways to include transforming education through SPOCs (small private online courses), blended courses, collaborations with both for-profit and non-profit entities, and adoption of the open source edX platform across entire countries and global regions, including China, France and the Arab-speaking world.

This presentation will provide an overview of edX’s growth over the last two years, including a summary of who our students are, what makes our courses popular, how our open source platform is evolving. It will also cover

Presenter: Anant Agarwal
CEO, edX

Anant Agarwal Photo

Anant Agarwal is the CEO of edX, an online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT. Anant taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics from MIT, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries. He has served as the director of CSAIL, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. He is a successful serial entrepreneur, having co-founded several companies including Tilera Corporation, which created the Tile multicore processor, and Virtual Machine Works.

Anant won the Maurice Wilkes prize for computer architecture, and MIT’s Smullin and Jamieson prizes for teaching. He holds a Guinness World Record for the largest microphone array, and is an author of the textbook “Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits.”

Scientific American selected his work on organic computing as one of 10 World- Changing Ideas in 2011, and he was named in Forbes’ list of top 15 education innovators in 2012. Anant, a pioneer in computer architecture, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the ACM.

He hacks on WebSim, an online circuits laboratory, in his spare time. Anant holds a Ph.D. from Stanford and a bachelor’s from IIT Madras. Anant’s twitter handle is @agarwaledu.


  • Learning has changed… what is the new classroom?
  • edX
    • edX is a learning destination and a non-profit MOOC provider.
    • Over 50 partners (Berkeley, U Washington, Boston U, etc.)
    • 3 part mission is to: 1) expand access to quality education, 2) improve on campus education, and 3) to advance research.
    • Expand ACCESS to Quality Education
      • 155,000 students enrolled in first course “Circuits and Electronics”
      • 7,157 were certified, 9,318 passed the mid-term, 8,240 took the final, 10,547 made it to the mid-term
      • For those of you that are wondering…155,000 is a big number!
      • 196+ countries
      • 2.5 million learners
      • 5 million course enrollments
      • 200 courses in English, French, Manderin and Hindi
      • 50 institutions
      • 150+ blended classes with 15,000+ enrollments
      • Virtual online labs and gamification provides ability for students to perform these in new ways, over and over again.
      • Credentialing and Course Sequences improves pass rate and success rate to 60%
      • edX has been open sourced and it is available for download
    • IMPROVE Campus Education
      • Active Learning – Lectures are part of a learning sequence. Short 5-6 minute videos are interweaved with interactive exercises.  The goal is to move from passive to active learning.
      • Self-paced Learning – The videos can be paused, rewind, access the transcript, pace themselves.
      • Instant Feedback – Provide for online grading and computerized assessments.  Much more than simply multiple choice through machine learning.  Feedback is one of the most valuable pieces in gamification.
      • Gamification – Virtual labs, simulations, and experiments can peform these easily multiple times.
      • Peer Learning – Students learning from each other via discussion forums and interaction.
      • San Jose State University research in that retake rates drop from 41% to 9% with a blended approach. [PDF Report]
      • Bunker Hill Community College students score and average of 10 points higher than MOOC students on the same exams in a blended learning setting.
      • Blended formats really allows for more personalized and project-based instruction in class. – Jaime L’Heureux, Professor, Bunker Hill Community College
      • Technologies provide a wide series of options, opportunities, and tools for teachers to blend.
      • 23 classes on campus at MIT impacting 2,800 students via MITx. 2 of 3 students are using the edX platform in blended learning setting.
      • edX provides a “new age textbook”.
    • ADVANCE Research
      • Big data and gathering learner events from courses and MOOCs.
      • 3 billion records of data and student events have been gathered.
      • What parts of the learning process is effective?  We need to learn how students learn to be more successful.
      • Who says a lecture needs to be an hour.  For videos looked at 5 million watches and tracked how long the videos were watched.  They ranked from 1 minute to an hour.  The median length of videos was 6-9 minutes was the optimal followed by 9-12 minutes.
      • A/B Testing to Improve Learning – A/B tests can now be created in edX Studio enabling course teams to author experiments to randomly split groups of students.  That is you can show one group of students to another.  Events can be tagged by groups providing instructors with the ability to analyze results about which options that work the best.  Studio now supports authoring of A/B tests.
  • Audience Questions
    • How are employers potentially using certificates and badges? Is there any value to a certificate?  It’s only been 2 years and so we currently have anecdotal evidence.  Linked in profiles can include these certificates and jobs have been awarded based on these.
    • As a student if I had a certificate for the circuits course would I still have to take the MIT course?  Universities are grappling with these issues.  MIT has admitted some students based on edX courses.  It’s cruel to make the students take the same class again.  We’ll have to see what happens.
    • Of the 7,000+ students that got a certificate, how many have translate that into college credit?  Today, edX has issued certificates and many universities have begun to offer credit. How do we ensure the student is the one that does the work? SoftwareSecure is a provider of verification and webcam along with an ID.  Person authentication, but edX is currently not doing activity verification.  There are some challenges.
    • What is edX doing with Google? The data stays with edX.  Single sign on, Google Hangouts, CBX provides Studio content integration, and many more opportunities.

“Learning and retention is related to the depth of mental processing.” – Craik and Lockhart, 1972


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