edX was founded by Harvard University and MIT a decade ago as a nonprofit alternative to for-profit online education providers. There was some fear when the company was sold in June.
In the end, 2U bought a giant source of leads for students that it can upsell graduate degrees to from its partner colleges. But turning edX into a marketing vehicle is a far cry from the what was said when the nonprofit was founded to bring education to underserved students around the world.
edX CEO and co-founder Anant Agarwal acknowledges there were tough questions after the initial announcement But he said that the vast majority of college presidents, provosts and professors he's spoken with have been reassured by the details of the arrangement.
He listed those details: that 2U has committed to continue the key mission of edX, including continuing to offer free versions of courses; that the sale price of $800 million will all go to a new nonprofit entity that will advance equity in education; that "not a single penny of the $800 million will [go] to either me or MIT or Harvard or the employees"; and that the open-source platform that edX courses run on, Open Edx, will be maintained by the new nonprofit rather than by 2U.
A dean of digital learning at MIT, Krishna Rajagopal, resigned in protest, telling colleagues in an email that he had "serious continuing reservations" about the proposed direction.
IBL News reported this week that 2U CEO Paucek "asked edX partners to give his company a shot".
"All we need is an opportunity to prove that the future of edX will grow; the brand will grow", he said during an interview with EdSurge.com.
"You will see us begin to advertise edX outright and grow the learner base. And I think that'll be good for everybody. Paucek also mentioned plans to incorporate into edX's courses a 2U job placement tool (developed by a coding bootcamp 2U acquired) which charges businesses to reach prospective employees.