It's called MITx, and it'll be launched soon by MIT.
MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform that will:
- organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace
- feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
- allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
- operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.
It's the third bullet point that makes this really interesting for students. While MIT has stated clearly that it's not getting into the business of offering course towards an MIT degree [see the FAQs], a certificate of completion awarded by MITx will still be attractive to many, many students worldwide.
Interestingly, this is precisely the idea that I first heard from Prof. M.S. Ananth over three years ago in a meeting to discuss the second phase of NPTEL. According to his grand vision, students all over India could use NPTEL course material, register for exams conducted by IITs, receive grades and certificates from the IITs. However, the idea appears to have gone nowhere.