MITx Review

Posted by admin on June 23, 2012 under Review | Be the First to Comment

MITx reviewsMITx is now part of edX. On May 2, it was announced that Harvard University will join MIT as a partner in edX. MITx, which offers online versions of MIT courses, will be a core offering of edX, as will Harvardx, a set of course offerings from Harvard.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of the world’s foremost universities and appears to be getting in on the spirit of free learning already being shown by a number of Stanford University graduates. MIT’s first free course is available online. Students can study and be assessed from their comfort of their own home without having to pay the exorbitant fees associated with going to university. MITx is their free electronics course which started in March 2012.

The purpose of the course is to allow students to learn in a fully automated manner with successful students rewarded at the end of the course with a certificate. According to the university, MITx is designed to shatter the educational boundaries that currently exist. This is yet another positive step towards using technology to deliver affordable higher education.

What is MITx all about?
For approximately a decade, it has been possible to use OpenCourseWare to access lectures and notes from MIT courses online. However, MITx goes a step further by allowing online students to work with their peers to participate in labs and be assessed by lecturers. Although there are numerous free online courses, few offer the same opportunity as MITx which enables students from anywhere in the world to study for a certificate carrying the prestigious MIT brand without needing any previous educational requirements. All study materials and grade awards are available online.

MIT announced their intention to go ahead with this plan in late 2011. The first course was called 6.002x: Circuits and Electronics which is based on the original course taught on campus. According to a spokesperson for MIT, this online course is no watered down version of what’s available in college. There are e-textbooks, a virtual laboratory, online discussions and a number of videos which take the place of a lecture. Students need to dedicate 10 hours a week for the course and numerous hours for study and research. It is important to note that although there are no actual requirements officially, prospective students need to have an excellent background in science and mathematics if they wish to succeed.

Honor Code
Interestingly, this online course will rely on a so-called ‘honor code’ which means that students are responsible for being honest without any check-ups by the university. However, MIT hopes to implement procedures that will verify work and check identities in the future. Aside from future electronics courses, MIT hopes to bring forward courses in physics, mathematics and biology. Professor Rafael Reif believes that the accreditation received by online students taking MIT courses could be a vital tool for training people in the workforce.

Verdict
Although the MITx program will be a valuable and worthwhile experience, MIT are careful not to alienate on-campus students. There will be a distinction made between the MITx certificate and the degree that is available for students on campus. After all, degree students pay fees of up to $50,000 a year. If their qualifications were not given precedence, there would be little point spending such money. This is just the latest installation of online education schemes. MITx is a fine example of universities willing to give back to the community.

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