|Occasional rivals, Harvard and MIT, team up to offer free online courses.|
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
May 04, 2012
Do you have $55K laying around for one year of classes at Harvard or MIT? Didn’t think so. These Ivy League schools are not only the most difficult to get into; they’re also the hardest to pay for. But not anymore.
This week, Harvard and MIT announced that they’re teaming up to provide free online courses, though a program called edX, for anyone around the world, regardless of age, income or ability to get through the grueling admissions process at either school.
The edX FAQs state that the classes will include “self-paced learning, online discussion groups, wiki-based collaborative learning, assessment of learning as a student progresses through a course, and online laboratories.”
Unlike other free online learning collaborations, students of edX will actually be graded on their work and can receive credentials or certification based on their success in the class. However, in order to actually receive the certification, students must pay a small fee. Furthermore, the certification won’t be provided under Harvard or MIT’s name, which means that unfortunately, their name will never get to appear on your resume.
Though Harvard and MIT have been getting a lot of attention this week over their announcement to partner up on online learning, they’re not the first. In fact, Stanford, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan also announced a very similar partnership this month, as reported by the New York Times.
But there is a big difference between the two programs. Harvard and MIT aren't just hoping to provide greater access to higher education; they’re also hoping to research more about the process of learning in general from the online courses.
Even now, edX developers are able to “track how long students spend working on an exercise or watching a short lecture video to see which tasks or lessons require more fine-tuned learning. Students in a course could be given one of two tests to see which measured learning better,” according to a press release from Harvard.
The estimated $60 million project will receive funding from each of the two schools, grants, and philanthropy and will eventually invite other schools to provide their courses through edX as well, as stated by Harvard. The New York Times reports that Harvard and MIT classes will become available on the edX platform during the fall of this year.
Would you take any of the edX courses offered by Harvard or MIT? Why or why not?