Published: April 20, 2016
Source: Business Standard
Anant Agarwal is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is also director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. At MIT for 28 years now, Agarwal left India post his degree at IIT-Chennai in 1982.
In 2012, Agarwal became the CEO of edX, the massive open online course provider by MIT and Harvard. He was in India last week to explain edX and MIT’s ideas to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others. He had met the PM the morning before this interview.
Agarwal spoke to Anjuli Bhargava on the genesis of edX, the future of modern education, how universities that don’t innovate may disappear over a period of time and how companies are changing the way they view the credentials their employees hold. Edited Excerpts:
Tell us a bit about how edX came up. The idea, how you went about it and why it was set up… the story behind it in a nutshell.
n 2011, my colleagues and I felt that technology had reached a point where one could teach people online in a way that has never been done before. People had done some online courses before but we felt we could use video gaming technology and apply it to learning. And create labs in various subjects – just like you play video games. One could create very engaging courses online.
Several of us at MIT (MIT president Rafael Reif, MIT executive vice president Israel Luiz, Gregory Morgan, head of legal) were brainstorming about this idea and decided to create MIT X. We didn’t know what to call it then.