Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MIT's Experiment in Online Higher Ed

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.


  1. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    MIT is cashing in on its name, that's all. MIT has already put up tons of OCW material on the internet which is free for anyone. This MITx seems to be a way of monetizing all that effort. Students can now pay to get a certification for courses, which they were getting free. Most likely the tests and grading will be superficial and the certificates would not mean much, but a gold-rush will ensue just because the program is touched by MIT. Effectively, students will be "buying" certificates for stuff that was anyway free. MIT, on its part, will distinguish categorically between MITx degrees and MIT degrees making sure that real MIT students retain their position of privilege. Lastly, it will kill competition from online universities.

  2. Yoga said...

    I just did the latest Stanford course on AI-basics offered free. I came to know of that course when I read your blog (thank you btw!).

    It was a wonderful learning experience and material was presented well.

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