Education | "X" Marks the Spot


Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are investing $60 million into an open-source online education program.

This collaboration, called edX, is designed to enhance campus-based teaching and learning and create a global community of online learners, according to the MIT News.

The courses, which launch in fall 2012, will feature video lesson segments, embedded quizzes, immediate feedback, student-ranked questions and answers, online laboratories and student-paced learning.

Participants who pass specific tests that demonstrate knowledge of the course material can earn certificates of mastery, but not a diploma. Yet.

The longterm intent is to open the edX platform to other universities and allow them to offer courses through one central site. The learning platform will also be released as open-source software so other institutions can use it to host their own online learning content.

In addition, MIT and Harvard will use edX to research how students learn, how and what technologies facilitate learning, and which methods and tools are most successful. The findings, they assert, can then be used to inform how faculty use technology in teaching to enhance both campus based and online learning.

EdX is separate from existing fee-based online and distance-learning efforts at both institutions.

This spring, MIT established a free distance-learning site, MITx, to offer online versions of MIT courses. When the school announced the first offering, Circuits and Electronics (6.002x), roughly 120,000 people from all over the world enrolled.

The Harvard version of MITx is Harvardx (which is not yet operational), and together, the two sites will form the core for the edX collaboration.

In other words, "X" marks the spot for free online learning through MIT and Harvard.

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