November 8, 2015

Georgetown Hosts edX Global Forum, Promotes Global Online Education

From November 8 to 10, Georgetown hosted the fifth annual edX Global Forum, a meeting of university leaders from around the world committed to providing educational content online.

EdX works with 85 institutions—including Georgetown—to make high-quality, interactive education accessible to a global audience through massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other technologies.

In his remarks at the edX Global Forum, Provost Bob Groves said, “Our partnership with edX presented us with new opportunities to live out [our] mission by joining an open-source community that was responding intentionally and carefully to the changing landscape of higher education…We at Georgetown believe strongly in this program.”


Georgetown has had an edX presence—GeorgetownX—since 2012. Since then, GeorgetownX has created eight MOOCs for more than 140,000 students worldwide. MOOC topics have ranged from globalization to medicine, with enrollment options for degree and non-degree programs.

“When we joined edX in 2012, Georgetown was one of only a handful of institutions experimenting in massive open online courses,” said Groves. “We were the first Catholic and Jesuit institution to join the partnership, and with us we brought the resources of our tradition: our commitment to academic excellence, to making high-quality education more accessible around the world, and to serving our global community.”

The Georgetown–edX relationship is facilitated by the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), which collaborates with departments and schools at Georgetown to offer a growing body of online courses. GeorgetownX is part of the university’s Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning, which aims to use new technologies to enhance learning at Georgetown. 

Global Forum

At the 2015 edX Global Forum, university members shared their experience integrating technology in classroom environments through MOOCs, blended learning, and open-access education.

The conference featured a keynote address from Megan Smith, the chief technology officer of the United States, as well as panel discussions with international educators on the topic of the future of education.

One of the most popular panels gave educators the opportunity to ask students from Georgetown and other universities about their experiences using the edX platform.

Student panelist Anastasia Nedavoya (MA ’16) said, “I was so happy to get to share my experiences with attending and acting as a teaching assistant for MOOCs at Georgetown. Hearing from the other panelists was so useful in determining where the future of education at Georgetown lies.”

Georgetown MOOCs

In fall 2016, Georgetown will offer two new MOOCs through edX: Sign Language, Structure, Learning, and Change and Quantum Mechanics for Everyone. 

The Sign Language MOOC is a four-week course about the history and usage of sign language taught in sign language—with a voiceover—by Ted Supalla, a professor in the Department of Neurology and the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery at the Georgetown University Medical Center.

“There is a high need for a basic, accessible course delivered to signers which introduces them to the science of their own language,” said Supalla. He adds: “Since it will also be accessible to non-signers, my hope is that it will expose this audience to the breadth and depth of discussions in American Sign Language in the fields of linguistics and the cognitive sciences. In viewing lectures and discussion sessions delivered in American Sign Language, the non-signing public will be able to gain exposure to the rich language and intellectual capital of the American deaf community.”

For more on GeorgetownX, visit the CNDLS website.