EdX Town Hall Calls on Faculty

In a town hall meeting entitled “All About the X,” dozens of faculty members from across Harvard’s schools gathered to learn more about ongoing online course development and research at HarvardX, the subset of EdX courses and technologies taught and developed by Harvard faculty.

“I wanted to make it clear to faculty about how much of an opportunity this is to think creatively about their whole process of teaching and learning,” said Robert A. Lue, faculty director of HarvardX. “How often do you see folks convening together around an idea from FAS, the Kennedy School, the Design School, the Medical School, and the School of Public Health?”

At the meeting, members of the HarvardX team presented a how-to guide for creating EdX modules. For example, Marlon Kuzmick, associate director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, showed professors how to integrate video into their modules.

Currently, lecture capture studios allow professors to simulate the classroom experience when recording lessons. According to Kuzmick, devices that project images of a person’s face over a teleprompter can facilitate more personable performances from faculty when they speak to the camera.

Katie L. Vale, FAS Director of Academic Technology, summarized the infrastructure of the EdX platform and showed how a student would experience a newly-created module.

Following Vale, Andrew D. Ho, chair of the HarvardX Research Committee, presented the ways in which the committee can help professors evaluate analytics from the online course platform.

Finally, lecturer David J. Malan ’99 spoke about his first few months as an instructor of CS50x: “Introduction to Computer Science I,” for which over 140,000 students registered.

“One of the greatest takeaways of participating in EdX was the imperative mandate to take the course to the next level, doing the initiatives we had envisioned technologically and pedagogically, and then applying them back to the on-campus students,” Malan said.

In the final open discussion, faculty asked specific questions regarding assessment for humanities courses, the incorporation of hands-on learning in online classes, and HarvardX’s cost and revenue models.

In the end, the HarvardX team encouraged interested professors to utilize the infrastructure already in place and to submit course ideas to be voted on by the HarvardX Faculty Committee.

“We want to engage more faculty, more broadly. This is not a situation where we’ll say, ‘Oh, now we’re full, we should stop now,’” Lue said. “We’re definitely building capacity.”

—Staff writer Amna Hashmi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amna_hashmi.