edX is yet another online learning opportunity and seems primed to follow in the footsteps of Udacity and Coursera. Online education has certainly been in the news lately with numerous American universities getting involved but edX is really generating excitement because it is a partnership between Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), two of the leading educational institutions in the world. edX will launch in the fall of 2012 and will cost an estimated $60 million. It is non-profit and will offer courses in a number of different academic disciplines to anyone with an internet connection and the will to learn.
What is edX all about?
Anant Agarwal of MIT will be the first president of edX which involves more than just watching video lectures online. It will also include laboratory sessions, online discussion, quizzes and a number of other innovative online learning techniques. If you take an edX course and fulfill the online requirements, you will receive a certificate. Unlike other online learning opportunities which tend to focus on one or two topics, edX has over 40 classes to choose from including Greek and Roman Mythology and cryptography. The majority of the courses range from 4-12 weeks in duration.
University education is incredibly expensive all over the world and America is right near the top when it comes to costly degrees and huge student loan debt. Although these online courses cannot compare to campus-based degrees in Harvard and MIT, they do provide applicants with basic knowledge which can be used to form a foundation. Indeed, it is hoped that these free courses will replace community colleges in the near future. There is perhaps the possibility of large colleges such as Harvard allowing edX students to transfer over to campus based education after having 2 years of online learning under their belts. This would cut tuition costs by tens of thousands of dollars. With only 7% of Harvard applicants and 10% of MIT applicants accepted, edX is an opportunity to gain world class education that would otherwise be impossible.
You simply cannot compare the education gained on edX to what is learned after paying $200,000 on tuition to go to Harvard or MIT. Although edX gives people a foundation, it does not provide all the available courses right now. Interacting with others is a vital part of the college experience and this is denied to those using edX to gain further education. Without in-person contact, it can be hard to establish human connections once an online student tries to gain employment. Graduates from edX will almost certainly be overlooked when compared to those who have graduated on-campus.
Despite the fact that edX is far removed from the experience and education gained by studying in prestigious universities such as Harvard and MIT, it does provide an opportunity that would otherwise be absent from the lives of individuals who wish to learn about a topic. Another advantage is that edX students can see if they like a subject enough to pursue an on-campus education. It could see an end to the process of wasting thousands of dollars in tuition on a course that doesn’t even interest the student.