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Robert J. Birgeneau Chancellor

Dear colleagues:

We are writing to inform you, in advance of a public announcement to be released tomorrow morning, that UC Berkeley will be joining edX, the Harvard and MIT not-for-profit online learning collaborative. We have successfully negotiated a partnership with edX which is very favorable for Berkeley.

We have spent considerable time deciding the best direction for Berkeley for open courseware. I (Chancellor Robert Birgeneau) have been in conversation for the last year with former Provost and now President of MIT, Rafael Reif, as well as more recently with Harvard President Drew Faust. Our own faculty, especially in EECS, have been actively engaged with their colleagues at MIT and Harvard. We share edX commitment to a not-for-profit and open-platform model and are excited at the possibility of providing courses and new open source software to the partnership.

Two Berkeley classes will be offered on edX this fall and we will collaborate on the development of the technology platform. Participation by our faculty in edX is totally voluntary, and while we encourage faculty who want to have courses on-line on edX, this will be completely up to them. edX is open to anyone and free, and online learners who demonstrate mastery of the subject can earn a certificate of completion for which initially there will be no charge.

Participation in mass open online courses (MOOCs) is only one of many initiatives in on-line education that we are - or expect to be- undertaking as we continue to develop our aspirations and strategies for on-line education at Berkeley. Our partnership with edX is fully aligned with the Principles of UC Berkeley's Online Education Strategy and our commitment to access and excellence. It is exemplary of how our relatively new process for advancing on-line education can work. The initial impetus came from faculty working on open-source technology and developing courses. The central administration worked quickly and in consultation with Academic Senate leadership, taking into account important broader campus-wide issues, to bring this partnership to fruition. The edX partnership serves our public mission of distributing higher education more broadly, while at the same time enriching the quality of campus-based education by helping us improve research on how students learn and how technology can transform learning.

This announcement is embargoed until 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 24, 2012 Pacific Time. Please do not share it until the embargo lifts. A press announcement will take place at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time. The press release and FAQ will be made available on the NewsCenter tomorrow.