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Colbert on edX: 'It's like the University of Phoenix!'

Posted by Your Town  July 26, 2013 02:50 PM

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Comedian Stephen Colbert interviewed the president of the online learning enterprise known as edX on The Colbert Report Wednesday, poking fun at the Cambridge-based company and comparing it to the University of Phoenix.

“It’s like the University of Phoenix, they have that!” Colbert exclaimed. “...No I’m serious, you can do that. They advertise on my show. Right? Same thing.”

Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, seemed to find Colbert’s jokes hilarious, and boisterously laughed throughout the entire segment.

EdX offers massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which are free online classes that enroll thousands of students all around the world. A total of 28 colleges participate in edX, including MIT and Harvard.

“It’s free,” Agarwal said as he tried to explain the online learning system to Colbert’s purposefully dopey character.

“I don’t understand,” Colbert replied. “You’re in the knowledge business in a university. Say I had a shoe store, and I hired you in my shoe store and you said, ‘Hey, I have a great idea, let’s give away the shoes for free.’ I would fire you, and then probably would throw shoes at your head.”

Colbert also argued that online learning will diminish the reputation of schools like MIT and Harvard.

“I get to say, I went to Harvard, that’s half of what you’re paying for,” he said. “Honest to God, you can say - well, actually you wouldn’t say ‘I went to Harvard,” you’d say, ‘I went to a small college in the Boston area.’”

Watch the full interview here:

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

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