Harvard and MIT Want to Educate You for Free

This fall, two top universities will offer free online classes to people all over the world.
People all over the world can take online courses from MIT and Harvard this fall. (Photo: Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Jun 20, 2012
Kelly Zhou has written on a variety of topics for TakePart, predominantly politics, education, and wildlife.

Harvard and MIT have teamed up to bring their courses to the masses. The two have launched a joint venture called edX—a program that will offer free online courses for people all over the world. Each university committed $30 million to the project. Aside from extending their courses to people outside the collegiate walls, the two institutions plan to use edX to research how students learn and how technology can help improve teaching.

"EdX represents a unique opportunity to improve education on our own campuses through online learning, while simultaneously creating a bold new educational path for millions of learners worldwide," MIT President Susan Hockfield said in a statement.

Other major colleges, such as Stanford University, have also made a stronger push toward online courses in the past few years. Stanford's "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" course last year generated noticeable attention, enrolling an impressive 160,000 students worldwide.

As for MIT and Harvard, the not-for-credit edX classes are available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. The courses are free of course fees and admission requirements. Online students won't get degrees, but they can earn "certificates of mastery."

Anant Agarwal, MIT's director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, is leading the edX initiative. EdX is based on MITx, a technological platform designed to offer online versions of MIT courses. The platform includes video lessons, embedded testing, real-time feedback and other interactive features.

The first courses from edX are expected to be announced in early summer and will start in fall 2012.

"We are already moving forward quickly," Agarwal said in a statement. "There's a lot of energy in the air, and the teams at Harvard and MIT can’t wait to collaborate."

Would you sign up for one of MIT or Harvard's online courses? Let us know in the comments below.

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