Tokyo Tech News

Tokyo Institute of Technology Joins edX MOOCs Consortium founded by MIT and Harvard University


Published: November 19, 2014

Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech / President: Yoshinao Mishima) announces it has joined the massive open online course (MOOC) edX consortium (see explanations below), founded jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. Tokyo Tech, which aims to be one of the top ten research universities in the world, will provide on-learning opportunities by making a select number of MOOCs available through the edX platform to students from around the world under the course heading "TokyoTechX"(*1). In addition, the institute will also create SPOCs (small private online courses) specifically for Tokyo Tech students by using the "flipped classroom" course format to provide a high quality learning environment.


edX Goals

With the aim of deepening of science and engineering students learning in their field specialization, Tokyo Tech is currently carrying out a university-wide reform, launching its new educational system in 2016(*2). The institute's participation in edX is one phase in its plan for creating a new educational environment by providing its unique research-based education courses to the world through edX. The motivation of joining edX is to incorporate its latest research findings into the fields of science and engineering education into its MOOCs for the benefit of students from around the world in order to encourage outstanding students to study at Tokyo Tech in the future.

Furthermore, it believes that communications between Tokyo Tech students and students from around the world enrolled in TokyoTechX courses will promote the globalization of the institute's students on its own campus. In addition, the distribution of intra-institute communication on SPOCs to promote active learning in science and engineering will enhance student-centered learning and educational research on it. Strengthening its on-line teaching capacity is urgently needed in order to provide a high quality education and improve its educational facilities. It is also studying the distribution of faculty development instructional material for Tokyo Tech faculty through the edX platform.

Looking forward

The production of its first MOOC by Professor Kei Hirose, Director of the Earth-Life Science Institute(*3) (ELSI) at Tokyo Tech, is planned for the autumn semester of 2015. ELSI was selected by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports (abbreviated as MEXT) as a World Premier International (WPI) Research Center that brings together top-class researchers from around the globe to research the mysteries on the origin of life on Earth. This academic year, in addition to creating a MOOC by Professor Hirose, it will also create a SPOC for the spring semester of 2015. Recently, edX announced(*4) a series of new MOOCs aimed at high school students. Tokyo Tech has been providing high school students courses in Japan for many years and is considering preparing high school student oriented MOOCs as well.

Comment by President Yoshinao Mishima regarding Tokyo Tech's Initiatives for edX

As a globally engaged leading sci-tech university, we need to increase the quality of our education and provide our courses world-wide if we want to attract outstanding students from around the world. Tokyo Tech students also need a learning platform that will allow them to view their courses whenever they like to study and learn through the edX platform upon demand. The institute's educational reformed curriculum will start in April 2016, from the first quarter we expect participation in edX will play a major role in our on-going educational reform initiative.

Comment by edX CEO Anant Agarwal regarding Tokyo Tech's joining edX

We are pleased to welcome Tokyo Tech to edX. As one of the world's leading research institutions, Tokyo Tech will now be able to offer its science and engineering courses to edX learners around the world.

The edX consortium education institutions (universities, etc.) courses are labeled "Institution Name X," and hence Tokyo Tech will label its MOOC courses as "TokyoTechX."
Main Points of Tokyo Tech's Educational Reforms (Japanese)PDF
Tokyo Tech's Earth-Life Science Instituteouter
Comments related to edX initiatives for high school students (edX High School Initiative)outer


What is "edX"?
It is a non-profit educational organization consisting of the highest caliber universities in the world, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. edX provides an environment where anyone in the world with internet access can study by enrolling in a variety of courses based on the latest pedagogy and didactics.

What is a "MOOC"?
a MOOC or Massive Open Online Course, is a large-scale course that is usually provided free (or for a fee for professional training) of charge to anyone with internet access. It consists of video recorded lectures, reading material, assignments, quizzes and exams, where students can communicate with instructors and other students via the internet and social media.

What is a "flipped classroom"?
Through internet access students view course lectures ahead of meeting in the classroom, where they discuss course content with the instructor and interact with students as well as ask questions about problems or work in groups.

What is a "SPOC"?
Unlike MOOCs, which any students can enroll in, a SPOC, or Small Private Online Course, is an online course with restricted access. SPOCs are used by institutions or universities for education or training.

Tokyo Tech's Education Reform

For an overview of Tokyo Tech's education reform, please visit here.

Tokyo Tech's Education Reform

Further information
Professor Jeffrey Scott Cross
Graduate School of Science and Engineering
Tokyo Institute of Technology edX project manager
(via the Tokyo Institute of Technology Center for Public Affairs and Communications)
TEL +81-35-734-2975

This article has been updated to correct the spelling of ELSI on June 17.