Harvard, MIT Pair Up For Free Online Courses

Calling it a "transformational new partnership," Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced today that they will each spend $30 million to develop an online education program — edX — that will offer free courses from the two institutions.

The partnership follows MIT's creation late last year of MITx, in which people can earn a certificate for completing a free online course. The edX courses — the first of which are slated to go online this fall — will also offer certificates, but no official credit.

The schools hailed the partnership in a press release. Though, as the New York Times reports:

... Harvard and M.I.T. are not the only elite universities planning to offer a wide array of massively open online courses, or MOOCs, as they are known. This month, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced their partnership with a new for-profit company, Coursera, with $16 million in venture capital.

But, as the Boston Globe reports:

The two universities also plan to collaborate on research into how students learn online by monitoring the progress of the hundreds of thousands of people they hope will sign up for classes, which could range from high-level math and engineering to the humanities.

The Times reports that such humanities courses "might be graded through crowd-sourcing, or assessed with natural-language software."

edX will be overseen by a new Cambridge nonprofit, owned by the two institutions.

The schools also said the edX software will be open-source, meaning other schools can use it develop their own programs.

WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov is reporting on the edX announcement and will have more. (Update: Monica's feature report on edX is here.)

This program aired on May 2, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



More from WBUR

Listen Live