Governor Charlie Baker announced today he will establish a new Commission on Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning to develop recommendations that will lead to more online learning opportunities for Massachusetts residents to obtain education and skills for in-demand fields. Governor Baker made the announcement during the \u201cGovernor\u2019s Online Digital Learning Summit,\u201d hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which brought together businesses and higher education institutions to announce new partnerships around online learning.\u00a0\n\nAmong the announcements at the summit, was a commitment by GE and Microsoft Corp. to provide no-cost opportunities for Massachusetts residents to take online courses in in-demand technologies, through a partnership with edX.org - the leading online learning platform founded by MIT and Harvard.\u00a0\n\nGE committed to interview any Massachusetts resident who completes an edX MicroMasters program in the in-demand fields of supply chain management, cybersecurity, cloud computing, or artificial intelligence. Those who complete an online MicroMasters program in these subjects will be considered for full-time job opportunities with GE or internships at the company\u2019s Boston headquarters. In addition, GE will provide 100 Massachusetts residents with a certificate in any online course offered on edX.org.\u00a0\n\n\u201cThese partnerships represent\u00a0another opportunity to capitalize on innovation and deliver an affordable education for people across the Commonwealth,\u201d\u00a0Governor Charlie Baker said.\u00a0\u201cWe appreciate our local employers and higher education institutions creating more online programming to help address the diverse and changing needs of employers and students, including non-traditional learners and young people.\u201d\n\nTed Mitchell, the new president of the American Council on Education, gave the keynote address during the Governor\u2019s Online Digital Summit held at M.I.T\u2019s Samberg Center. He served as U.S. Undersecretary of Education from 2014 until January 2017, reporting to the U.S. Secretary of Education and overseeing postsecondary education policies and programs.\n\n\u201cNew approaches are needed to expand higher education opportunities for all Massachusetts residents, particularly for those who need flexibility and are not able to take traditional classes on a college campus,\u201d\u00a0Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said.\u00a0\u201cMassachusetts\u2019 talented employers and higher education providers are poised to ensure the Commonwealth leads in online learning.\u201d\n\n\u201cGE is thrilled to announce this groundbreaking commitment. Our partnership with edX is a true testament to the value GE sees in innovative online education and the transformative power of technology,\u201d\u00a0said Paul Fama, global learning leader at GE.\u00a0\u201cOffering Massachusetts residents who have completed these MicroMasters programs an opportunity to pursue a career with GE demonstrates our continued investment in furthering employment opportunities in the Commonwealth.\u201d\u00a0\n\nMicrosoft committed to support community college students in Massachusetts by offering to contribute toward the cost for any community college student in Massachusetts to complete the entry level\u00a0Computer Science Professional Certificate\u00a0program on edX. In addition, Microsoft will provide 500 Massachusetts residents with a certificate in any Microsoft online course offered on edX.org. Offering access to these courses opens doors for jobs in the IT industry and will equip learners with the knowledge and necessary skills for career success.\n\n\u201cMicrosoft is excited and proud to be a part of this initiative. Bringing learning and training for the modern technology landscape fits perfectly with the Microsoft mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more,\u201d\u00a0said Chris Roy, Senior Director Microsoft.\u00a0\u201cBy providing students and Massachusetts citizens with the necessary skills to bridge gaps in the tech industry, it helps them open new opportunities and be successful in their careers.\u201d\n\n\u201cAs a Massachusetts-based company committed to providing access to high-quality education that transforms lives and advances careers, we are thrilled to be working with the Commonwealth, GE and Microsoft to offer innovative pathways from online learning to career success,\u201d\u00a0said Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT Professor.\u00a0\u201cThrough this groundbreaking partnership, we are providing Massachusetts residents with the tools they need to gain knowledge in the most cutting edge fields, including Data Science, Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence, in order to fast-track their careers and secure high-level employment opportunities.\u201d\u00a0\n\nThe Governor\u2019s Commission on Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning will be a 15 to 20-member board made up of employers, higher education leaders, online education providers and entrepreneurs, students, workers, and K-12 education representatives. The Commission will be organized under the auspices of Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-state agency that designs and executes workforce programs in partnership with businesses and educators.\u00a0\n\nThe Commission will develop recommendations on ways the state can partner with industry and higher education to make online learning opportunities accessible and affordable for all residents of the Commonwealth. The commission will look at replicating promising practices, such as competency-based education, prior learning assessments, stackable credentials and customized employer-higher education training initiatives.\u00a0\n\nThe Commission on Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning will be scheduled to complete deliberations by June 2018, and release its recommendations in September.\u00a0\n\n\u201cNotwithstanding the proliferation of technology on college campuses, the basic delivery model for the vast majority of courses and programs remains stuck in the 20th Century. We need innovative approaches to serve students who have long been left out by traditional higher education models,\u201d\u00a0Education Secretary James Peyser said.\u00a0\n\n\u0022Today\u0027s summit on digital learning shows the importance of collaboration between higher education and industry partners,\u0022\u00a0said Carlos E Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education.\u00a0\u0022We will need to continue building effective partnerships as we work to bring affordable, high quality \u00a0digital learning opportunities to students of all ages and backgrounds.\u0022\n\nSeveral other corporations and higher education institutions made announcements during the Governor\u2019s Digital Learning Summit, including, Partners HealthCare, Match Beyond, and the state\u2019s 15 community colleges.\u00a0\n\nPartners HealthCare announced plans to expand opportunities for its employees to earn a certificate in Health Care Management, co-created by Partners and CfA. The certificate will be \u201cstackable\u201d to an associates\u2019 or bachelor\u2019s degree, or can stand alone as a focused certificate program. During the past three years, Partners HealthCare and SNHU\u2019s College for America piloted a degree program for employees. More than 400 employees enrolled in online courses to work toward an associates degrees, bachelor\u2019s degrees or certificate. The initiative was supported in part with a grant administered by Commonwealth Corporation, through the state\u2019s Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund. Partners\u2019 new initiative is an effort to help thousands of employees take advantage of the opportunity to advance their skills.\u00a0\n\nOther announcements included:\u00a0\n\nNorthern Essex Community College and Middlesex Community College will make it easier for early childhood care providers to use their experience to gain a degree in their field. The two community colleges are developing competency-based pathways in early education that will allow adult learners to start and complete courses online, gaining credit for their experience. This initiative will help meet employers\u2019 needs for well-educated early education professionals.\n\tMatch Beyond, an innovative college and career non-profit launched in Boston in 2014, announced plans to grow, aiming to serve 600 students annually in Greater Boston by 2022. Match Beyond helps students, typically young adult learners, earn their associates and bachelor\u2019s degrees with online courses, through a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University.\u00a0\n\tThe 15 Massachusetts community colleges announced plans to launch two new websites that will be able to recognize credit for prior learning, making it easier for adult learners to begin or continue their college educations. MassExperienceCounts will be an opportunity for adult students who have some professional experience to gain Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) through a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).\u00a0\n\tThe 15 community college consortium also is in the midst of launching a website that enables prospective students to research high-demand jobs. The website factors in individuals\u2019 needs and expectations to match them to courses at nearby community colleges, and give them a plan tailored to their career objectives.\u00a0\nTo learn more about the edX, GE and Microsoft opportunity:\u00a0learn.edx.org/massachusetts.