Come fall 2012, you can!
You don’t need to be in Boston because the courses will be offered online, along with courses from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, commonly known as MIT.
The two schools announced Thursday that they would be taking their coursework to the world, including not just instructional materials but discussion forums, short videos, and laboratory simulations, all under the guidance of university professors and teaching assistants.
The joint program, called edX, expects to offer certificates of mastery for individual courses completed, rather than traditional diplomas.
The universities hope to measure and study the students who choose to take the online courses so they can learn more about… learning.
A Boston Globe article cited Harvard President Drew Faust as saying:
“Through this partnership, we will not only make knowledge more available, but we will learn more about learning. Anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world can have access.’’
The president of MIT, Susan Hockfield, shared similar sentiments at Thursday’s press conference:
“You can choose to view this era as one of threatening change and unsettling volatility, or you can see it as a moment charged with the most exciting possibilities presented to educators in our lifetimes.’’
Harvard and MIT aren’t the first high-ranking schools to offer their educational services to people online for free. Stanford began offering a series of free engineering classes to online students last fall.
Recently, the Cato Institute released an article making a case for alternative methods of learning at the college level, including options with low or no cost to the student. The cost of a traditional college degree has ballooned, and many students graduate with massive debt while having made insignificant gains in knowledge and proficiency. If subject proficiency can be gained in more effective, less expensive ways, isn’t it time to try?
Kathryn Hickok contributed to this article.