Friday, May 4, 2012

Harvard and M.I.T. Team Up to Offer Free Online Courses

New York Times (05/02/12) Tamar Lewin

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced a plan to offer free massively open online courses under their edX partnership. Overseeing edX will be a nonprofit organization that Harvard and MIT will govern equally, and each school has pledged $30 million to the initiative. EdX's inaugural president will be Anant Agarwal, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, while Harvard's contribution will be supervised by provost Alan M. Garber. University officials say the new online platform would be used to research educational technologies and methods as well as to build a global community of online students. Included in the edX project will be engineering courses and humanities courses, in which crowdsourcing or software may be used to grade essays. Harvard Corporation's Lawrence S. Bacow says education technology currently lacks "an online platform that gives faculty the capacity to customize the content of their own highly interactive courses." The edX effort faces competition from similar partnerships between Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and Coursera. The rapid evolution of online education technology is such that those in the new ventures say the courses are still in an experimental stage.

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