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Harvard, MIT to sell their online lecture-video platform for $800 million

The Crimson reports that Cambridge's two larger institutions of higher education are selling their edX portal to some for-profit concern and that they'll use the money to build a new non-profit aimed at improving the online educational experience, in particular for "under-resourced and historically disadvantaged populations."

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Comments

I love how they use "educational experience" as opposed to "education degree" . Harvard and MIT are the biggest group of NIMBYs I've ever seen. All about feeding their rich fat mouths with more money.

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Voting closed 16

Why not just make the current online lecture-video library totally free and accessible to "under-resourced and historically disadvantaged populations"?

Save time, cut out the middle man - they don't need the $800M.

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Voting closed 39

Headline is misleading. edX isn't a library, its a platform for taking online courses, and it has other content providers besides Harvard and MIT.

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Voting closed 35

Well this is the shittiest news of the day. Two rich-beyond-belief colleges did a great thing and made some of their courses available for anyone, anywhere in the world with an internet connection. They built their platform and expanded it over years (possibly even a decade).

Then they decide "screw it" our $42 billion (Harvard) & $18 billion (MIT) endowments aren't big enough, so let's sell and make some $$$! Oh, and let's definitely try to redirect anger by claiming the company is purchasing it for "historically disadvantaged populations". Ya know, the same group of people who, until today, had FREE access to all our online courses.

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Voting closed 50

Nice to see a clear explanation.

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Rather than just commenting on rumors -- try at least reading up on what has transpired [subject to approval by authorities such as MA Attorney General's Office]

The most important highlights besides the $800M which goes back into funding a new to be newly named Nonprofit entity which will be doing what MIT has been doing since OpenCourseWare began -- except on "Steroids":

Nonprofit entity

What is the nonprofit that MIT and Harvard will govern once the transaction is complete?

The proceeds of the transaction — approximately $800 million — will flow into a remaining nonprofit entity with an updated educational mission and a new name. Governed by MIT and Harvard, this nonprofit will steward and enhance the Open edX platform and explore new ways to make online learning more effective, engaging, and personalized.

The nonprofit will aim to do what edX could not: invest at the necessary scale to sustain Open edX as a fresh, vital, open-source learning platform for the world, and tackle the next great research challenges in online learning. It could, for example, invest in the potential of artificial intelligence to make online learning more responsive and personalized to the individual learner.

The nonprofit’s detailed mission, name, and research program will be developed following consultation with the faculty of both MIT and Harvard, as well as with edX partner institutions. The input of faculty and other stakeholders will help the board of the new nonprofit shape its agenda. Further, the edX partners may be able to engage with the new nonprofit in the future through grant making and partnerships. President Reif will work with the chair of the faculty to develop a plan for engaging MIT faculty in contributing to the new nonprofit’s focus and aspirations.

Here's the link to an FAQ provided by MIT
https://news.mit.edu/2021/mit-harvard-transfer-edx-2u-faq-0629

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Voting closed 23

is misleading. They are selling the platform they built but not the contents. The schools retain the contents. EdX as a non-profit couldn't financially keep up with other well financed educational technology companies that are churning out so much online learning.

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Voting closed 26

Thanks.

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Voting closed 14

In the FAQS Item 6 may be a very telling explanation of the sale.

As currently structured and funded, edX does not have the resources to compete in the rapidly evolving for-profit online learning marketplace as a platform that aggregates course content from other institutions.

That sounds like a nice way of saying that edX is not profitable and none of the contributing universities (including other wealthy places such as Georgetown U) are willing to subsidize the edX.

Promises that boil down to an implied new and improved are like promises of a customer to a sales rep. They don't mean anything unless the money is actually on the table. Will the purchase price of $800 million actually go to a new and improved online educational platform?

Consider Harvard's Widener Library building. It's various expansions have required some fancy thinking.

Whether Edx remains, whether Harvard and MIT actually create a new and improved online educational platform fit the IT concept of vaporware until the commitments are fulfilled.

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Voting closed 10