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20 December 2011, 15:27

MIT developing MITx: Open source software for online education

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is to extend its online educational services with a project known as MITx; this project will build on the ten-year old OpenCourseWare project, and the software developed will be made available as open source, enabling other educational institutions also to use it for their own online offerings.

The new platform will provide course material, interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication. MITx students' work will be assessed and they will be able to earn a certificate of completion; but, MIT degrees will continue only to be available for on-campus students. MITx will "be available to anyone in the world for free".

The existing OpenCourseWare project, which will continue to be developed, makes MIT's content for over 2,000 courses available. The drive for greater interactivity means though that specific tools need to be developed that go beyond the simple sharing of materials. An experimental prototype version of MITx is scheduled to be released in Spring 2012, and once the software infrastructure for this is considered stable, it will be released as open source. An FAQ on MITx explains that the project is being announced now as MIT wants to lead the community's development of online education and already has many years experience in on-line learning and the tools required including the creation of online tutors, online laboratories, crowd-sourced grading of programs, machine learning and automatic transcription.


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