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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have joined forces to offer free online courses in a project aimed at attracting millions of online learners around the world, the universities announced Wednesday. Beginning this fall, a variety of courses developed by faculty at both institutions will be available online through the new $60 million partnership, known as "edX." "Anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world can have access," Harvard President Drew Faust said during a news conference to announce the initiative.
Lectures are often the least educational aspect of college; I know, I’ve taught college seniors and witnessed how little students learn during their four years in higher education. So, while it’s noble that MIT and Harvard are opening their otherwise exclusive lecture content to the public with EdX , hanging a webcam inside of a classroom is a not a “revolution in education”. A revolution in education would be replacing lectures with the Khan Academy and dedicating class time to hands-on learning, which is exactly what Stanford’s medical school proposed last week. Stanford realizes that great education comes from being surrounded by inspiring peers, being coached by world-class thinkers, and spending time solving actual problems.
A prison is a trap for catching time. Good reporting appears often about the inner life of the American prison, but the catch is that American prison life is mostly undramatic—the reported stories fail to grab us, because, for the most part, nothing happens . One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is all you need to know about Ivan Denisovich, because the idea that anyone could live for a minute in such circumstances seems impossible; one day in the life of an American prison means much less, because the force of it is that one day typically stretches out for decades. It isn’t the horror of the time at hand but the unimaginable sameness of the time ahead that makes prisons unendurable for their inmates. The inmates on death row in Texas are called men in “timeless time,” because they alone aren’t serving time: they aren’t waiting out five years or a decade or a lifetime.