Institute online learning update / Institute launches two online learning faculty groups

September 16, 2021
Lily L. Tsai, Chair of the Faculty, 2021–2023 | Sanjay Sarma, Vice President for Open Learning, 2016–2022 | Martin A. Schmidt, Provost, 2014–2022 |

Dear Colleagues:

Following up on the June announcement of a new future for edX, we write today to share some encouraging progress.

At the time of the edX news, MIT and Harvard announced that they would jointly govern a nonprofit entity focused on reinventing digital learning. Over the summer, as we conferred with faculty, it became clear that this new situation required careful attention and creative thinking in two broad areas: how to shape and support the nonprofit, including its stewardship of the Open edX platform for a global audience, and how to envision and cultivate the future of online learning for and from MIT.

To address these two distinct challenges, today we are naming two new faculty groups:

  • The members of the new Nonprofit Entity Working Group will solicit input from MIT faculty and community members to develop recommendations on how best to advance the nonprofit entity’s founding goals of stewarding the Open edX platform and tackling challenges in online learning. This group is charged with delivering these recommendations to the faculty and the president, who will present them to the new entity.
    In parallel to this faculty effort, the leaders of the nonprofit, once they have been selected, will also engage with governing partner Harvard and the nonprofit’s network of stakeholder institutions (the edX network).
  • Separately, the members of the new Ad Hoc Committee on MITx and MITx Online will develop an Institute-wide process for consulting with faculty and departments on how online education can contribute most effectively to MIT’s education and research mission. The committee will advise on how to develop and deploy MIT’s online educational resources and create a vision for a new MIT online education portal. This committee will report its findings and recommendations to the faculty for discussion before sharing the outcomes more widely.

MIT’s open learning legacy is pioneering and global. We are grateful to all the faculty members (named below) who have agreed to lend their expertise, energy, and vision to this important work.

We look forward to sharing more news as the work develops.


Lily L. Tsai, Chair of the Faculty

Sanjay Sarma, Vice President for Open Learning

Martin A. Schmidt, Provost

Nonprofit Entity Working Group

Co-chairs: Martin A. Schmidt, Provost, and Lily L. Tsai, Chair of the Faculty

Working group members

  • Deepto Chakrabarty (SoS)
  • Isaac Chuang (SoE)
  • Esther Duflo (SHASS)
  • Lorna Gibson (SoE)
  • Caspar Hare (SHASS)
  • Paul Joskow (SHASS)
  • Eric Klopfer (SAP)
  • Parag Pathak (SHASS)
  • Jim Poterba (SHASS)
  • Kris Prather (SoE)
  • Ray Reagans (Sloan)
  • Julie Shah (SoE)
  • Larry Vale (SAP)
  • Ian Waitz (Vice Chancellor)

Ad Hoc Committee on MITx and MITx Online

Co-chairs: Sanjay Sarma, Vice President for Open Learning, and Lily L. Tsai, Chair of the Faculty

Committee members

  • Bill Aulet (Sloan)
  • Tania Baker (SoS)
  • Martin Bazant (SoE)
  • Chris Caplice (SoE)
  • Craig Carter (SoE)
  • Isaac Chuang (SoE)
  • Michael Cuthbert (SHASS)
  • Rick Danheiser (SoS)
  • Sara Ellison (SHASS)
  • Denny Freeman (SoE)
  • Eric Grimson (SoE)
  • David Kaiser (SHASS/SoS)
  • Krishna Rajagopal (SoS)
  • Brent Ryan (SAP)
  • Christopher Schuh (SoE)
  • Susan Silbey (SHASS/Sloan)
  • Pawan Sinha (SoS)
  • Iain Stewart (SoS)
  • Gigliola Staffilani (SoS)