MIT today announced that it will be launching a new online learning initiative called MITx that will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform. MITx will be based upon MIT’s OpenCourseWare, a free online publication of nearly all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate course materials, that’s been available for the last 10 years. MITx hopes to take OpenCourseWare a step further by offering certification to online learners who complete MIT’s coursework. These certifications will be different from MIT degrees awarded to students who attend MIT classes, and will be offered by a new non-profit body that MIT plans to form.
Aside from organizing the materials already available under OpenCourseWare into courses, MITx’s online learning platform feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication, enable individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx.
MIT expects that this learning platform will enhance the educational experience of its on-campus students, offering them online tools that supplement and enrich their classroom and laboratory experiences. MIT also expects that MITx will eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.
OpenCourseWare includes nearly 2,100 MIT courses, but apparently not all courses will be available through MITx in the beginning. From the FAQ:
MITx will begin by offering a portfolio of selected courses, which will grow over time. The selection of courses will depend on the interests of MIT faculty and online learners and will be determined on a course-by-course basis.
Even though MITx will be for non-profit and open to all, MIT hasn’t ruled out revenue generation from fees for certification.
MIT plans to launch an experimental prototype version of MITx in the spring 2012. Once the open learning infrastructure is in stable form, MIT will also release the open-source software infrastructure and will establish ways for other universities, as well as interested individuals, to join MIT in improving and adding features to the technology.
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