Two of the world’s leading universities, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have formed a partnership to provide relatively cheap online courses starting in the fall (around August/September) of 2012. The two Ivy League schools pooled $30 million each and started the EdX program, aimed at bringing quality education online; all you need to access is a computer and an internet connection.
According to Harvard President Drew Faust, “Anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world can have access.” What is EdX? Well their website says they are “an organization established by MIT and Harvard that will develop an open-source technology platform to deliver online courses.”
This is by no means the first time that Ivy League institutions have offered to bring their brand of education to the web. In fact, MIT recently started MITx, which saw 120,000 people sign up for courses (the first batch graduates in June). In addition, schools like Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon and Yale have experimented with the idea as well. EdX hopes to up the ante by providing interactive classes for the first time, anywhere.
There is an upside for the schools as well, as they plan to harness the power of the internet to further their research, as well as bolster their own curricula. “EdX will support Harvard and MIT faculty in conducting research on teaching and learning on campus through tools that enrich classroom and laboratory experiences,” their site says.
And they may not be alone. They hope that other top schools might want to join the party and add their courses, offering a range of classes to suit everybody’s wants.
Before you get too excited, they will offer classes “for a modest fee”, you won’t get a Harvard or MIT degree, and they will grant only those who have “mastered” the subject credentials.
This could be a boon to third-world countries with struggling universities, some still using textbooks from defunt Soviet Russia. With their students able to access the latest material it might give countries like us here in Nigeria a better foundation to rebuild the educational system.
See what they have to say: