MIT to open up some courses to global audience -- free, online

MIT to open up some courses to global audience -- free, online

Summary: MIT to join Stanford in offering courses for global participation. MIT says it will offer certificates for successful completion.


It appears that two of the nation's top technology universities are now competing in the free, online classroom space. Stanford is now launching its second semester of free, online tech courses, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced it also will soon be launching online courses that will be free and open to the world. And, in the process, plans to offer certificates to students successfully completing the coursework.

The program, called MITx, will represent the next evolution in online offerings, extending the university’s already well-established OpenCourseWare, which provides materials on about 2,100 courses that has been accessed by more than 100 million people. OpenCourseWare will continue, but MITx will be more interactive and provide a greater virtual classroom experience, providing access to online laboratories, student-to-student discussions, and greater interactivity. MIT also expects that MITx will eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.

The new initiative matches a similar one now underway at Stanford University, in which professors ran three open, online courses this past fall semester, and will expand the program to include 10 more computer science classes beginning next month, including launching startups, technology entrepreneurship, software as a service, natural language processing, and human-computer interaction.

Unlike the latest MIT initiative, Stanford does not offer certificates for completion of the coursework — instead, non-matriculated students receive statements of accomplishment signed by the instructors. MIT indicates that it may charge a small fee for the credential, which would go to funding the program. MITx will be managed as a non-profit activity also supported by foundations, companies and individuals, the university says. A not-for-profit body will be created within the university that will offer the certifications, and that body will carry a distinct name to avoid confusion.

The university hopes the program will expand through the community effect, says Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “Creating an open learning infrastructure will enable other communities of developers to contribute to it, thereby making it self-sustaining,” he says. “An open infrastructure will facilitate research on learning technologies and also enable learning content to be easily portable to other educational platforms that will develop. In this way the infrastructure will improve continuously as it is used and adapted.” Agarwal is leading the development of the open platform.

Beyond the MIT campus, MITx will endeavor to break down barriers to education in two ways, according to program organizers. First, it will offer the online teaching of MIT courses to people around the world and the opportunity for able learners to gain certification of mastery of MIT material. Second, it will make freely available to educational institutions everywhere the open-source software infrastructure on which MITx is based.

MIT also intends to make the MITx open learning software available free of cost, so that others — whether other universities or different educational institutions, such as K-12 school systems — can leverage the same software for their online education offerings.

(Cross posted at SmartPlanet Business Brains.)

Topic: CXO

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  • RE: MIT to open up some courses to global audience -- free, online

    All right!!!! Now, for some $300 I can get an MIT degree.
  • MIT, Stanford, next?

    Although they owe no one an opportunity to benefit from their courses without paying tuition or making other arrangements, the Ivy League universities might consider the good will they would engender by making some of their courses available on line at no charge.

    Unfortunately for those wishing to study on line, many excellent undergraduate courses are conducted as student discussions of assigned materials led by a well-prepared faculty member.

    Still, one can hope other universities will join MIT and Stanford -- especially those with fine programs in the humanities and social sciences.

    What an opportunity for those thirsting for knowledge and willing to do the work to acquire it.
    Vazir Mukhtar
    • RE: MIT to open up some courses to global audience -- free, online

      @Vazir Mukhtar

      Please Google [b]Stanford opencourseware[/b].

      or [b]MIT opencourseware[/b]

      or [b]Harvard opencourseware[/b]

      or [b]Oxford opencourseware[/b]

      Now insert your own search.

      You get the drift?


      If you think education is expensive, try ignorance
      {Chinese Proverb}

      It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.
      ~ C. W. Leadbeater

      All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
      ~ Galileo Galilei[/i]
  • Stanford AI course a great experience

    I was one of the thousands of on-line students who took the "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" course from Stanford during the fall semester. It was a great experience! Very interesting and challenging, and taught by two very enthiastic professors. I will definitely take some of the other Stanford courses in the future, as time permits, and I'll also look at those offered by MITx.
  • RE: MIT to open up some courses to global audience -- free, online

    how do I sign up?
  • RE: MIT to open up some courses to global audience -- free, online

    Wonderful idea, could have very positive effects. I hope people around the world will sign up; also start their own free online education systems. We need to circumvent the constraints of special interests in controlling education and its outcomes.
  • Please google opencourseware consortium

    and you'll find that most universities worldwide do this. Basically offering their courses online for free. The only caveat is you can't officially get a degree through this method.

    But academically, there is always this principle. One can always challenge the University, and if they can pass their exams, get the degree!

    more at:

    Worldwide eh? Finally the term university means something real. Aka universal.

    And that is the way of the future!

    Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
    ~ John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, 35th President of the United States

    The only constant is change.
    ~ Confucius

    Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature's delight.
    ~ Marcus Aurelius

    The ancient Greek definition of happiness was the full use of your powers along lines of excellence.
    ~ John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963[/i]
  • RE: MIT to open up some courses to global audience -- free, online

    That's great! Stanford and MIT are doing a great job.

    With open courses available from various institutions, there is a great opportunity to bring them all together, create synergy, and offer a wider offerings to the students and teachers world-wide.

    That's what MyEducationKey ( is aiming to do in offering free virtual education to all in the world (K-12, University, and Professional Development), while creating virtual classrooms, and Learning communities.