Forget paying thousands of dollars to get admission at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of the world’s top universities has announced MITx, an interactive online learning platform which, apart from offering the online teaching of MIT courses free of charge to anyone in the world, gives students access to online laboratories, self-assessments and student-to-student discussions.
MITx website reads:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology — a coeducational, privately endowed research university founded in 1861 — is dedicated to advancing knowledge and educating students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. Through MITx, the Institute furthers its commitment to improving education worldwide. MITx courses embody the inventiveness, openness, rigor and quality that are hallmarks of MIT, and many use materials developed for MIT residential courses in the Institute’s five schools and 33 academic disciplines.
— MITx on edX (@MITxonedX) May 4, 2016
MITx builds upon the success of the university’s 10-year-old free online platform, OpenCourseWare, which has nearly 2,100 courses and has been used by over 100 million students. The new online program gives students an opportunity to ask questions and brainstorm through online discussions and forums. According to The New York Times, MITx is accompanied by an MIT–wide research initiative on online teaching and learning, including grading by computer.
Though the program does not offer students a MIT degree, students, who exhibit a mastery of the subjects taught on MITx – just like an MIT student does – receive an official “MIT–sanctioned certificate”. While access to the software is free, there is an “affordable” charge for a credential.
— Étienne Mérineau (@etiennemerineau) August 24, 2015
Provost L. Rafael Reif remarks:
“There are many people who would love to augment their education by having access to MIT content, people who are very capable to earn a certificate from MIT. Most individuals want to have piece of paper saying they learned something and maybe that will help them get a job.
“[But] I think for someone to feel they’re earning something, they ought to pay something, but the point is to make it extremely affordable. The most important thing is that it’ll be a certificate that will clearly state that a body sanctioned by MIT says you have gained mastery.”
— MINES ParisTech (@MINES_ParisTech) August 27, 2015
Will MITx dilute the value of a degree earned by the university’s traditional yet expensive program? Richard DeMillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says:
“It seems like a very big deal because the traditional higher education reaction to online programs was, yeah, but it’s not a credential. So I think MIT offering a credential will make quite a splash. If I was still in industry and someone came in with a MITx credential, I’d take it.”
— Steve Virtue (@stevevirtue) May 5, 2016
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