Harvard and MIT Launch Virtual Learning Initiative EdX

“I would imagine that the bricks-and-mortar model will always have a place,” said Martha Stone Wiske, a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who researches technology and innovation. “There is something very beneficial in being able to exchange ideas face to face.”

David A. Wiley, associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University, described the new offerings as another option in the “ecosystem” of higher education.

Despite the lofty aims of the new program, many practical aspects of its implementation still remain undecided.

“As you can detect, there’s a lot of questions that are unanswered as of today. That’s deliberate,” Garber said. “We need our faculty to be deeply engaged in the shaping of Harvardx.”

Administrators said that they will announce Harvardx’s fall course offerings over the summer. In a letter to Harvard faculty, Smith wrote that East Asian languages and civilizations professor Peter K. Bol, University Professor Gary King, and Computer Science Lecturer David J. Malan ’99 have agreed to consider how they may offer their courses through edX.


In the letter, Smith framed edX as a necessary adapation to Harvard maintaining its academic excellence.

“At every turning point, Harvard has always chosen to move forward,” Smith wrote. “By using these new technologies and the research they will make possible, we will be able to inform the conversation on technology-enabled teaching and at the same time provide virtual access to some of the best educational resources in the world.”

In a Crimson interview, University President Drew G. Faust spoke last week of higher education’s shift into the virtual realm.

“We are in a moment of transformation and we’re all sorting through the implications—how it will change what we’ll do in ways that expand what’s available to students enormously, but also expand the possibilities for higher education for people who have never had access to them before.”

—Radhika Jain contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at

—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at