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  • [APPLAUSE]

  • MARLYN MCGRATH: Welcome back to Sanders Theatre for this afternoon's show,

  • "Hold That Thought" show.

  • I'm Marlyn McGrath from the admissions office accompanied

  • by four stars on our faculty who volunteered

  • because they're eager to welcome you to Harvard and to entertain you.

  • Some of you-- students, anyway-- might know the wonderful Richard Scarry

  • book for toddlers, if you can remember that far back,

  • What Do People Do All Day?

  • This is a version of that.

  • It's also, by the way--

  • I should note-- a version of the thing that the admissions committee does.

  • We figure we spend a lot of weeks, months, fall, winter, trying

  • to figure out who you are.

  • Who is this person?

  • You get some chance to see who some of the other people at Harvard

  • are today-- the faculty who are responsible, really,

  • for the whole program that you would experience if you came.

  • You already know already, I hope, that no one here-- no one in my staff,

  • no one in our faculty, et cetera, is trying to-- "no one" is a strong word,

  • but anyway, no one is trying to pressure you into choosing Harvard.

  • You've got other great choices.

  • You're not going to make a mistake.

  • You never have.

  • You never told us you did.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • This is gravy.

  • You're not going to make a mistake.

  • Harvard's a great place.

  • So are a lot of other wonderful places.

  • You would not be thinking about them if they were not.

  • But of course, we really, really want you to come.

  • And so our strategy for this is what we want

  • is for you to want to come to Harvard.

  • That's our-- we think-- much nicer segue into this.

  • And what we think that ought to mean is that you

  • would conclude, at the end of the weekend,

  • that Harvard would be a lot of fun.

  • And so much talent is represented in this room,

  • it's fairly daunting, actually, to stand up here

  • in front of all of the talented people in this room, who we all

  • hope you'll use those talents in new and unanticipated ways.

  • Things you have not yet thought about.

  • Things that won't have occurred to you.

  • Things that you might, along the way in college, think of.

  • And that means finding out what will give you fun, actually.

  • I can't say that loudly enough, so I won't try, but give you

  • fun, pleasure, and satisfaction.

  • Don't assume you know that now as you enter college, Harvard or otherwise.

  • But both to amuse you and to confuse you,

  • which is the very, very Harvard thing to do--

  • to amuse you and confuse you.

  • If you like that, Harvard is a great choice for you.

  • If you don't like amusement and confusion, think.

  • You still got time.

  • [CHUCKLING]

  • Our faculty colleagues will can you glimpses anyway

  • of what they do all day.

  • And some glimpses, I think, of who they are anyway.

  • And we hope you'll have fun watching them have fun.

  • So without further ado, I will introduce the first act,

  • which would be by Professor Robert Lue, whose

  • talk will be called "Solving Global Challenges Through Collective

  • Learning."

  • Well, who is he?

  • He is, among other things, professor of the practice

  • of molecular and cellular biology.

  • He's the faculty director of the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.

  • And he's the faculty director of the Harvard Allston Education Portal.

  • Hold that thought.

  • HarvardX.

  • Lots of online learning.

  • He went to high school--

  • I try to remember high school's for everybody, key thing here--

  • at St. George's College in Kingston, Jamaica.

  • His PhD is from Harvard, and he's taught our undergraduate courses since 1988.

  • He's very well-known also--

  • hold this idea too, because none of these people

  • has ever stayed in his or her lane intellectually--

  • he's also known for his passion for art, and merging that interest

  • with cellular biology.

  • So without further ado, having said I would not do this without further ado,

  • you can now hear from Professor Lue, "Solving Global

  • Challenges Through Collective Learning."

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • ROBERT LUE: Thanks, Marlyn.

  • So let me add my words of welcome.

  • I'm sure that you have been welcomed more times than you can count.

  • But I must welcome you to Harvard, and your thinking

  • and your experiencing of what a Harvard life might be like.

  • But what I'd like to do is perhaps help us think a little bit differently

  • about the kinds of learning experiences that

  • is possible in a setting like Harvard, and also, in any setting

  • that one might imagine.

  • So you've probably heard a lot already about Harvard courses, concentrations,

  • things that you will experience here.

  • But what I would argue is that, without question,

  • while what you experience here will be absolutely

  • critical to your own learning, we now live in a world where what you learn

  • can indeed be something that can be a major contribution to what someone

  • else learns thousands of miles away from you.

  • So I'm a cell biologist.

  • But for a number of years, I've been very interested in this challenge

  • of personalized learning at scale.

  • And what is the role of a university like Harvard in doing this?

  • And how can this sort of challenge really change

  • how you think about your own time here at an institution like Harvard?

  • So as some of you may know, in 2012, 2011,

  • there was a lot of discussion around what we called MOOCs--

  • massive open online courses.

  • I suspect that some of you have even taken

  • some massive open online courses, perhaps from Harvard

  • as well, from HarvardX.

  • But one of the critical aspects of this is that Harvard partnered with MIT

  • to develop a platform called edX.

  • The notion was that we really wanted to share broadly

  • with the world learning content from top universities around the world,

  • but to make it much more accessible.

  • But what did we do?

  • We made courses.

  • Things that were 10 weeks long.

  • 12 weeks long.

  • 8 weeks long.

  • 6 weeks long.

  • So we started off with a traditional notion of how you learn,

  • which is through a course.

  • So fast forward to now.

  • After I founded and built HarvardX, what we now realize

  • is that, in fact, courses are incredibly important.

  • Don't get me wrong.

  • You will have amazing courses here.

  • But there are other ways in which you can learn that give you more agency--

  • the ability to personalize in ways that perhaps we didn't have before.

  • So if we want to make personalized learning more available,

  • how do we do this?

  • What platform do we have?

  • Well, one of the critical aspects of edX compared to any other course platform

  • online is that we're open-source.

  • We're free.

  • So what that means is that there's something called Open edX.

  • And you see a bunch of numbers and words there.

  • Open edX and edX together now accounts for roughly 60 million learners

  • have engaged with the platform around the world.

  • There are more than 1,300 organizations, ranging from universities like Harvard

  • to Amnesty International, the World Economic Forum, Microsoft, Google.

  • A whole variety of organizations use the platform.

  • All countries have been touched and have access to the platform.

  • And so what this means is that we are currently

  • the largest open-source learning platform in the world.

  • So you're probably thinking, well, I'm trying

  • to figure out how I feel about Harvard.

  • I'm looking inside.

  • Well, what I'm going to try to urge you to do

  • is to, at the same time that you're looking inside, look outside as well,

  • and what you might be able to do in that regard.

  • So what we have done is that we are now building the next generation of the edX

  • platform--

  • once again free, once again open-source--

  • in a project that I'm hearing called LabXchange.

  • And what makes it next generation is that if you

  • think about the amount of learning content out there--

  • and I know that you have seen a lot of things--

  • literally tens of millions of individual assets have been created.

  • Probably hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent.

  • And what you have are a multitude of courses

  • that have videos, that have text, infographics, simulations, animations,

  • all of those things.

  • But all of them are locked in courses.

  • And so you need to decide, OK, if this is what I want,

  • I need to jump in, somehow find it, take what I want, and then jump back out.

  • Or, do I have time to spend 12 weeks doing something online?

  • What LabXchange has done is completely re-architect the core of the edX

  • platform so that now everything is combined into a common repository where

  • the course is no longer the unit size, but any learning