Case Study 4
Top American universities are promoting several initiatives to provide free online courses, known as Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), in what may be a response to the success of the Khan Academy, a worldwide phenomenon which pro- vides more than 3,200 videos and exercises to per- form at a personalized pace.
Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have signed an agreement to create EDX, a non-profit organization that aims to offer free online courses, adapted from traditional courses, to anyone with an Internet connection. Each of institution has invested $30 million in the project, for which they will launch five courses this autumn. They are using the same platform recently developed by MIT for its project MITX, which has already offered the course Circuits and Electronics, in which 120,000 people have enrolled, 10,000 of which have completed the mid-term exam. Those who pass the course receive a certificate, but do not receive any official credit.
In addition to offering engineering courses, in which electronic grading is relatively easy, EDX will offer
courses in humanities, in which students’ work may be graded through crowdsourcing or evaluated by natural language software. Projects like this can have a major impact on societies around the world, for example, on billions of future students in China and India.
EDX is designed not only to build an online global community of students, but also to investigate new learning methods and technologies.
The Project goes far beyond mere educational videos: it includes discussions, labs, quizzes and other interactive learning tools. As an open source initiative, it can be used by other universities. The technology of online education, with video lectures, exams, immediate feedback and learning adapted to each student’s pace, is developing so rapidly that it is still considered to be in the experimental phase.
Princeton University, Stanford University, the Univer- sity of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania have collaborated to create a similar initiative, called Coursera, for which they have garnered $16 million in venture capital.