One Year Later: Uniting Quality and Access to Create Exponential Impact
Written by Anant Agarwal | Christopher "Chip" Paucek on Jan 18, 2023
Related content: Higher Education, Leadership, Digital Education, Impact and Outcomes
When 2U and edX became one company at the end of 2021, we were aligned in our mission to unlock human potential through the power of education for everyone, everywhere. One year later, we’re even more committed to driving fundamental change with this vision for the future. By uniting the quality, services, and infrastructure of 2U with the access, reach, breadth, and depth of edX, we’ve unlocked the secret to creating exponential impact for learners, our partners, and the world.
We came together because we saw around the corner, anticipating that today’s learners want more choice and control over what, where, when, and how they learn. Over the past year, our complementary strengths and advancements have deftly positioned us to not only give learners what they want, but also ensure they achieve their goals and thrive.
We’re now meeting the needs of more learners than ever and giving our partners increased flexibility for how to leverage our support and be resilient through the challenges ahead. We also have greater means to help drive down the cost of education so that affordable, high-quality learning becomes a basic human right for all, no matter your background or stage of life.
Here are 10 ways that 2U and edX have jointly evolved and innovated, setting us on the path toward making an even more powerful impact in the years to come:
1. We’ve fully transitioned to a platform company.
In today’s world, platforms like Spotify and Airbnb have reshaped industries to give consumers and providers more flexibility, transparency, and value. Learners and educators alike are now demanding the same. In 2022, we transformed our company to operate as one business centered around the edX platform at edX.org. This pivotal change embraces a unified business strategy, a new partnership model that builds on our shared mission, and a simplified organizational structure so that we can continue to enable strong outcomes at scale.
2. We’ve expanded our global learner universe.
Since we came together a year ago, we’ve welcomed over five million new learners around the world to the edX platform, bringing the total to over 46 million. edX learners are career advancers who aim to improve their lives. They are in all 50 states from New York to Florida to Washington, in 247 countries and territories from Kenya to Turkey to India, and on all seven continents.
3. We offer an unrivaled portfolio, from short to long and free to degree.
With over 4,000 offerings from over 230 partners—and growing every day—edX is now one of the world’s most comprehensive online learning marketplaces. Learners can choose from a variety of programs aligned to their goals, among them free online courses, boot camps, executive education, MicroBachelors® and MicroMasters® programs, and online undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees.
4. We continue to invest in more accessible and affordable programs.
Nearly 600 free online courses and a dozen microcredentials—including two new MicroBachelors programs from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a new MicroMasters program in Social Work from Baylor University—have been added to the edX platform since we became one company. We’ve also announced several disruptively priced, fully online degrees from top universities, including University of Texas at Austin, Boston University, and University of Maryland.
5. We’re forging stronger learner pathways to success.
As we increase the number of modular and stackable offerings on the edX platform, learners have more ways to build upon their education and attain incremental credentials toward a full degree and/or fulfilling career. These pathways come in many different forms, from individual online courses that add up to a professional certificate to microcredentials that can stand alone or offer credit toward an undergraduate or graduate degree. And just recently, George Washington University announced a new fully stackable pathway to an online Doctorate of Public Health.
6. We’re meeting partners’ unique needs by giving them more flexible choices.
Embracing edX’s flexible approach to degree support, we’ve evolved our revenue share model to give universities more choices about how they leverage our technology and services to bring more high-quality degree programs online. Complementing our full-service model, our new tiered approach adds to the ways institutions can work with us to maximize their reach and impact.
7. We’ve established more scholarships, grants, and Access Partnerships.
We continue to prioritize access and affordability by building upon our pre-existing scholarships and grants as well as launching new ones. Two of our initiatives for historically marginalized populations, for example, include the $1M Macquarie Group economic recovery scholarship and our regionally based Access Partnerships, which provide learners with affordable pathways to job-relevant skills and life-changing careers. Upon joining together, we also announced our $1M grant for the creation of courses that teach essential human skills for the digital age.
8. We’re helping more employers find, train, and retain top talent.
Through edX For Business, we’re enabling nearly 1,000 employers—from Cognizant to Postmates—to upskill and hold on to their employees with high-quality online learning experiences. And through our Career Engagement Network (CEN), we’re helping a network of over 1,000 employers expand and diversify their talent pipelines with a consistent, direct, and trusted source for finding qualified candidates who meet their skills and hiring needs. In 2022, learners were referred to employers over 40,000 times for open job positions through our CEN.
9. We’ve launched two new edX university councils.
Along with our Corporate Advisory Board, two groups of esteemed university leaders have been created to guide us in our mission and help us understand and respond to the perspectives of our partners from both academia and business. Our University Leadership Council brings together presidents, provosts, and chancellors from our global partner network, while our University Partner Advisory Council includes academic leaders who are responsible for their institution's digital transformation and online education strategy.
10. We’ve preserved and advanced the edX mission.
Our commitment to preserve and advance the edX mission endures. This includes protecting faculty and universities’ intellectual property rights for contributed courses, ensuring the privacy of individual learner data, contributing to the development of Open edX owned by the nonprofit led by MIT and Harvard, and guaranteeing the continuation of free versions of online courses on the edX platform.
A Commitment to Affordable, High-Quality Education for All
One year after joining together, we’re more eager and ready than ever to help solve some of society’s biggest challenges through the promise of education for all. Our successes over the past year are proving just how much of a force for systemic change we can be, so that learners and our partners can overcome the pressures ahead and flourish.
We’ll achieve this future by continuing to offer the industry’s best tech-enabled services and end-to-end learner support while growing our content portfolio in exciting and relevant ways. We’ll also keep matching learners with the right learning in the right format at the right time—and continue to expand and enrich our partnerships with the world’s best institutions and brands. Through it all, we’ll remain steadfastly committed to keeping universal access to affordable, high-quality education at the heart of everything we do.
One year down and so many more years of limitless opportunity together ahead. Onward!
As we move into the future, be sure to bookmark The Latest on edX for more stories of impact from Chip, Anant, and many others.