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Harvard and MIT Offer Free Online Education

Noofa Hannan, Howl Staff

Harvard and MIT have partnered up to create a $60 million independent, nonprofit online education program called edX.  The program built on the existing MITx platform will offer classes that embed not only video lesson segments but also quizzes, instant feedback and online labs, all at student-paced learning. Best of all, edX will be free and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

“EdX represents a unique opportunity to improve education on our own campuses through online learning, while simultaneously creating a bold new education path for millions of learners worldwide,” said MIT president Susan Hockfield in a statement. Mary Carmichael, writing in the Boston Globe, has called the venture “an altruistic giveaway, a potential research bonanza, and an audacious bet on the future of higher education all in one.”

Online learners who demonstrate a mastery of subjects will be able to earn a certificate of completion for a sum as yet undetermined. It should be noted, however, that these certificates will not be issued under the Harvard or MIT names.   This is understandable, considering the tough process of getting admitted to either of these very prestigious universities.

MIT provost Rafael Reif said of the program, “This is about giving our students the best education possible. At the same time, once we have the content online, we might as well share it with the world.’’ Ultimately, administrators of edX hope that other universities will also join them in delivering their own content through the open-source edX platform.  The program is expected to be up by fall of this year.

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