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03 May 2012, 17:12

edX: new online partnership from MIT and Harvard

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Following on from its MITx project announced last December, which extended its online educational services, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has now created a new project for online learning – edX – in partnership with Harvard University. One intention of the MITx project was to release its source code as open source, enabling other educational institutions to also use it; this code will now form the technological basis for the new project. The two institutions expressed the wish that "over time other universities will join them in offering courses on the edX platform".

It was stressed at the press conference that one goal of edX was to "shape the future of learning and teaching on our campuses", and that both institutions hope that through this project they will be better able to develop modern teaching methods that make the best use of the latest technologies. Anant Agarwal, the edX President, described how the prototype online course currently on offer has attracted 120,000 students from around the world; he claimed that "online education for students around the world will be the next big thing in education; this is the single biggest change in education since the printing press ... Our goal is to educate a billion people around the world."

According to L. Rafael Reif, MIT Provost: "This is not to be construed as MIT-lite or Harvard-Lite; the content is the same content." However, although students will be awarded with certificates for demonstrating command of course material, to gain a degree from MIT or Harvard will still require traditional on-campus attendance.

Beginning this autumn, a range of courses developed by both institutions will be available on edX; anybody with an internet connection, anywhere in the world, will be able to access these for free. Video lesson segments will be complemented by embedded quizzes and laboratories; students will also be able to engage with their tutor and other class mates. No list of courses is yet available on the edX web site.

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