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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Drew Faust and L. Rafael Reif

The newest revolution in higher ed

In 1837, the Massachusetts Board of Education devoted part of its first annual report to praising a recent classroom innovation called the blackboard. This “invaluable and indispensible” innovation enabled the “rapid and vivid communication of knowledge.” It created opportunities for teachers to engage learners in ways that had been unimaginable just a generation earlier.

The same and more will be said of online learning tools. We are at the beginning of a technology-led revolution in pedagogy: Our innovation is not the blackboard, but instead an evolving suite of tools that allows interactive learning online. While one outcome of this revolution has rightly caught the world’s attention — the power to democratize access to education on a scale never seen in history — we are just as excited about the promise that these new tools hold for colleges and universities throughout the world.

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