HarvardX Appoints Leadership, Faculty, Support Team

Harvard has announced the makeup of its HarvardX leadership team and faculty committees charged with overseeing the university’s online education efforts. HarvardX is the school’s operating entity to manage its relationship and contribution to edX, the online initiative launched with MIT which is committed to fulfilling the promise of higher education delivered over the internet.

edX was officially launched nine months ago in 2012, and has already undergone rapid expansion, signing up a substantial number of both domestic and international partners. The effort will be guided by three bodies – HarvardX Leadership Group, HarvardX Faculty Committee and HarvardX Support Team.

The Leadership Group will be tasked with making decisions and setting the agenda for the entire effort. The Faculty Committee will weigh on on course design, set curriculum policies and deal with issues concerning the grant of course credit for classes offered through edX. The Support Team will be charged with putting into effect the decisions made by the HarvardX leadership.

Still to come are a research committee, which will oversee and support the analyses and evaluations of online initiatives—at least in part to apply what is learned to in-class, on-campus instruction and learning; and the membership of the edX board of directors, and of its partnership subcommittee, which oversees identification and admission of new member institutions (a recent expansion has brought the number of affiliates to a dozen).

The analysis of who has been named on the various bodies makes it possible to hazard guesses at the direction the HarvardX initiative will go. The high position some of the appointed members hold in the university also demonstrated the the school is taking its commitment both the edX and online education very seriously. The Leadership group will include the university provost, an executive vice president, two vice presidents and two deans.

Beyond whatever applications of online-teaching and -learning techniques may be made in their Cambridge and Boston classrooms, most of the professional schools and DCE conduct large, often global, and frequently very profitable continuing- and executive-education operations—an important educational and financial opportunity for HarvardX and edX.

The appointments to the Faculty Committee also demonstrate commitment to bringing online learning to a broad range of disciplines. The members include representatives from the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School, among others.

Members of the support group include not only the expected leaders in academic computing and information technology, but also communications and development experts—suggestive of a major effort consistent with the University’s announced intention of committing up to $30 million to fund its participation in edX.