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Education News

MIT And Harvard Start New Online Education Partnership 60

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the students-everywhere-rejoice-as-blackboard-dies dept.
New submitter Lluc writes "MIT and Harvard have started a new online education partnership called edX, an 'open-source technology platform to deliver online courses.' They plan to offer classes starting in Fall 2012. Perhaps this nonprofit venture is a better method for online education than Udacity, the startup created by Stanford professors after their wildly successful free online course offerings." Fellow new submitter alexander_686 sent in a link to the edX FAQ, and adds: "Harvard and MIT are launching edX with 60 million dollars to offer 'low fee' online classes. No word yet on classes offered or who will be teaching. No college credit but certificates will be offered. ... I hope low cost means low cost. (Under $25). I have really enjoyed the Stanford University free online classes."
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MIT And Harvard Start New Online Education Partnership

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  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:06PM (#39869971)

    This really is exciting, I hope that eventually all of these online education efforts will consolidate into one singel network offering a variety of free and low cost educational options, constantly updated and standardised on an easy to use open format, available to people around the world.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Other than the open format thing, sounds a lot like itunesU

      Is there anything like itunesU for android?

  • 1) Set up a free online encyclopedia site like Wikipedia with many different subject headings 2) Require Harvard/MIT academics to fill in the information for each subject. ............ The entire world would benefit from a new resource like this...... As for "cheap online classes...... Again, setting up a Wikipedia-like learning site would benefit infinitely more people than a few online courses attended by a few thousand people at most.
  • OCW? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:12PM (#39870071)

    From the FAQ

    Many institutions are partnering in this space. Is the MIT/Harvard partnership exclusive? Will other institutions be able to collaborate with edX?
    It is our intention that over time other universities will join MIT and Harvard in offering courses on the edX platform.

    Hmmm how about MIT OCW? Can they partner with edX?

    OCW has some excellent class lectures to watch. I hope this doesn't mean OCW is going away, or going to fee-only.

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      I was about to ask "what is OCW?" but then I remembered let me google that for you [lmgtfy.com]. :-)

      OCW is "open CourseWare." Here's the link: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm [mit.edu]

    • In the press conference they said that EdX and OCW will coexist, so it won't get canceled.
    • by Immerial (1093103)

      MIT OpenCourseWare is hoping to partner with edX as some point. Currently our the relationship with them hasn't been fully defined. We might host the content after the course is no longer being taught or ... who knows??? Lots of questions abound... lots to do with overlap of effort (do we cover the same MIT courses?), licensing of content (we are almost completely Creative Commons NC-BY-SA- what does that mean if they go BY or BY-SA?), limits on the instructors/faculty (will we even get time with people w

  • Perhaps... not! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AtomicAdam (959649) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:18PM (#39870161)
    Perhaps this nonprofit venture is a better method for online education than Udacity,

    Perhaps someone from Harvard or MIT, wrote and submitted this summary/article.
    Perhaps this is just a way for some universities to rake in more cash to misappropriate later while offering certificates that are not even worth the paper they're printed on.

    Or perhaps this is going to be a really cool thing. We shall see, until then I'm cautiously optimistic. Seriously, Udacity FTW.
    • by vlm (69642)

      offering certificates that are not even worth the paper they're printed on.

      This is not a new development in the educational-industrial complex.

      I could probably fill this /. text box with telecom "certificates" that no body cares about, and thats before I get started on weekend/night vo-tech certificate programs.

      The only paperwork HR cares about is bachelors degrees. Masters, maybe, but you're probably overqualified. Phd, go away you're overqualified.

      My collection of ham radio contest and participation certs is probably more relevant to most employers, and frankly more work to ac

      • When you look at the apprentice / journeyman / master system, you're supposed to get broader experience in the journeyman phase ... you go place to place, learning from other experts.

        When you've got the team lead who's been trained internally and has known nothing other than working at that one place, I see that as a red flag. If you ask them why they're doing something a specific way, and they give an answer that's effectively 'because that's the way we've always done it', it's a sign that they're not goi

      • As it's to long has way to much filler and most of them are geared to high level stuff that is little help at the help desk, systems admin, levels.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Perhaps this is just a way for some universities to rake in more cash to misappropriate later while offering certificates that are not even worth the paper they're printed on.

      What certificates do Harvard and MIT issue that aren't worth the paper they're printed on? If you're going to toss around an accusation like that, you'd better have evidence to back it up.

      (Full disclosure: I'm one of the few members of my immediate family without a Harvard degree of some sort, but I've seen no evidence of low standards anywhere in the institution other than the president's office.)

      • by foksoft (848194)
        From TFA:
        Will the certificates be awarded by Harvard and/or MIT?
        As determined by the edX board, MIT and Harvard, online learners who demonstrate mastery of subjects could earn a certificate of completion, but such certificates would not be issued under the name of Harvard or MIT.
      • MIT Girl. Stop.

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:35PM (#39870373) Homepage Journal

    Most of the online courses fall short on the psychological aspects of teaching. They are little more than videotaped lectures with automated homework grading, and this model doesn't translate well to an online model.

    By way of example, the online courses offered so far have been based on avoiding penalties instead of gathering rewards. Your grade is 100 minus the things you get wrong, and you have to finish before a deadline or get penalized.

    This is reflected in the enrollment numbers: 120K students enroll in an online course thinking that MIT (for example) will provide a rewarding experience. 100K drop out because the experience isn't all that great.

    Taken another way, consider a student who has trouble in the first half of the course and who gets a poor grade on the midterm. At that point, the maximum grade they can get is very low, so there's really no incentive to continue.

    A different model might hold the student back until they show proficiency. Once they have confidence in the material, the system "rewards" them and presents the next chapter. The student is motivated to get the next level of achievement, and their level of understanding is greater.

    All of the motivation in all of these courses comes from the student, and with no rewards along the way it turns into a grueling tedious chore. It's tough to keep slogging away for 12 weeks with only the dream of a certificate to keep you going.

    If they really want to educate people, they're going to have to change their model to keep students motivated.

    Until they do that, it'll still be just videotapes of college lectures.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So, it's a lot like real college then ? except for the whole, I have to get dressed and leave my dungeon part of course....

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      This is a interesting idea. It is almost like a RPG where you level up. The difference lies in the fact that instead of leveling up your avatar for a fake world, you level up yourself for the real world. I wonder if anyone will get addicted to learning. :)
      • by Cragen (697038)
        I think learning SHOULD be more like RPG's. The step by step approach in MMORPG's keeps me going. :) At least for the first few years of a subject. There used to be a reading program like that back in the 60's for 10-11 year olds in Ohio that used short stories. (don't remember the name) It had a range of reading comprehension where the level of comprehension was color-coded. I was SO worked up to become a PURPLE reader.
    • Most of the online courses fall short on the psychological aspects of teaching. They are little more than videotaped lectures with automated homework grading, and this model doesn't translate well to an online model.

      .

      If they really want to educate people, they're going to have to change their model to keep students motivated.

      Until they do that, it'll still be just videotapes of college lectures.

      Some classes are even worse. Locally, some genius in control of the educational system has managed to get Lower Prices Everyday[TM] for our tax dollars by converting foreign-language education into one massive online class.

      I may not be very sociable, but I still understand the importance of 2-way channels when learning foreign languages. A lot of people don't actually "hear" what they think they're hearing. If they just keep repeating back the same faulty pronunciation to a computer, instead of improving,

    • > Until they do that, it'll still be just videotapes of college lectures.

      's/just/free/g' That's a huge mod.

      It's silly to compare the curent crop of on-line FREE courses with tuition-based in-class courses. Better to compare them with tuition-based on-line courses, like those of Columbia CVN or Stanford SEE. By that standard, the free courses I've seen are as good or better. And remember, each of the freebies costs $2500 less. That's a world of difference.

      Will on-line courses ever approach the learni

    • by AlXtreme (223728)

      A different model might hold the student back until they show proficiency. Once they have confidence in the material, the system "rewards" them and presents the next chapter. The student is motivated to get the next level of achievement, and their level of understanding is greater.

      The Khan Academy uses this approach when one does the exercises: you start with the basics and gradually gain points and badges while you work through the various topics, using the video lectures when you get stuck.

      All exercises a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:43PM (#39870471)

    With all the horrible things happening now in the online world SOPA/PIPA/CISPA this online education thing is a really positive development that makes me feel good about the future of humanity. I'm taking the first MITX course (6002x Circuits and Electronics). It's great to take a course that is REALLY HARD, as in you have to be comfortable with calculus and differential equations. Most online learning, with the exception of online learning that is computer science related, has been really basic up until now. I am hopeful that with the worldwide nature of these courses this is going to improve the lives of people everywhere.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:55PM (#39870613)

    I wonder about level distribution.

    Go to OCW or itunesU or ed section of archive.org and there's about 20 first semester calculus video lecture series. Some are even pretty good. Then there is a steady decline until "junior year" classes where the distribution drops to approximately Zero. I'd like to watch a modern compiler class. How about a modern database design class (I was brought up in the Codd Normal Form era, it would be interesting to listen to some nosql rants).

    A complete list of "interesting video lecture series I know about" : there is a decent crystallography/stereochemistry series. There is a decent thermodynamics series. There is a decent digital communications series. That's about all I've found for technical "non-freshmen level" video lecture series.

    Its like a video game stuffed with noobness to get good immediate reviews, then ignore the longer term players, after all you've already got their interest/money.

  • certs only (Score:4, Informative)

    by prgrmr (568806) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:00PM (#39870665) Journal
    From the FAQ:

    "Will the certificates be awarded by Harvard and/or MIT?
    As determined by the edX board, MIT and Harvard, online learners who demonstrate mastery of subjects could earn a certificate of completion, but such certificates would not be issued under the name Harvard or MIT.

    Will Harvard and MIT students be able to take these courses for credit?
    No. MITx and Harvardx courses will not be offered for credit at either university. The online content will be used to extend and enrich on campus courses."


    Can't take a chance on watering-down the reps of either institution. So segregate the student populations, and don't directly affiliate the names. This is what happens to a good idea after marketers, lawyers, and the bean-counters get together and have had their way with it.
    • by Georules (655379)
      Interesting thought, but I'd like to see some evidence.
    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      Harvard and MIT aren't going to directly affiliate with this for the same reason that other big-name universities still refuse to offer online-only degrees after all these years--because both they and their accrediting institutions are controlled by entrenched faculty who have big egos and don't want to risk being put out of a job. Professor McHotShit wants you in his class in person, kissing his ass and ensuring that he can never be replaced by videos.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to see these classes partnering with an independent standardized testing service like CLEP/Dantes for college credit. That would be the perfect system. This would free up classrooms for students who want time with the instructors/professors, and help the eager folks prove that they learned something on their own without paying ridiculous amounts of money.

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      I agree that college is too expensive but I envision more of a hybrid model. Students take online courses to complete all the "book learning" and universities would become a place for study groups, hands-on projects, and hardcore research. "Professors" would be there to help guide students and facilitate research..
    • by vlm (69642)

      Another area of mystification "here be dragons" is why we only hear about online classes and video lecture series for top tier research universities.
      Unsurprisingly the best instructors are at teaching colleges, like state-U, little local private U, or voc tech 2 year establishments.

      Best math instructor ever, taught calc at a local HS and moonlighted teaching calc at a small private U. I swear to god that dude could teach an armadillo how to integrate by parts.
      Best chemistry teacher ever, ancient guy teachi

  • better for people with disabilities and saying BA needed may be barking the law.

    There are people with disabilities who can do the job and who can take on line / tech school classes but are not cut for classes in a fashioned college setting and not hiring them just because they don't have a BA is discrimination.

  • As an active software developer and college undergrad, I tried Udacity's CS101. It was embarassing, from a professional perspective. From a unicorn and rainbow perspective, it was kind of neat, and I began to drink the koolaid... until I realized that their automated grading system was written poorly, choking on Python code that was barely creative. I pointed this out in their StackExchange-like "forums", only to be immediately engaged by the Python defenders who called me "un pythonic" for building a reusa
  • Seriously, when the fuck is "fall"? Every time I see that shit I have to figure out when "spring" is and then deduct six months and I'm still not sure.

    Chuck it on the pile with your football stadiums, libaries of congress, Farenheits, the Kings thumb and his servants foot, and burn the whole fucking lot.

  • Education for the sake of education is a waste of time and effort. We live in a credentialist society, and the only thing that matters is the paper you get from your academic efforts. But I guess this kind of thing allows the macroparasitic education institutions to assuage their consciences as they jack up the cost of the actual paper education (the REAL education) they sell to their students at relentlessly rising cost. "Are we not wonderful? We provide education for free (or "low" cost) to the lumpenprol

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