A couple of days ago Harvard and MIT announced a new partnership for online learning / distance learning.

Here is the original press release.

One sentence made me reather curious: “EdX will enhance the traditional residential model of undergraduate education on both campuses by supporting an unlimited number of experimental online approaches to teaching that can be used by Harvard and MIT faculty and which will benefit students in Cambridge and Boston.” So the initiative is admittedly for the improvement of the service for the customers (undergrad students). It is nice for several reasons:

  • If edX can effectively improve undergrad education, i.e. directly benefitial to the host institutes, it helps keep alive on long term
  • If edX can effectively improve undergrad education, it is a good reason then to imitate it in other universities just for selfish reason as well as getting founded by others.

So it is just common sense: philanthropy is good, but not a stable model. People may or may not imitate, depending on how passionate about the goals and how much extra resources they have. A system that selfish motives, too, has much better chance to survive and widespread.

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