The future of education
Published: Monday, May 7, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:07
In a push for the creation and expansion of free massively open online courses, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) have come together to form a nonprofit organization, called edX, that will offer free online courses from both universities.
The two universities, through an equally governed organization will oversee edX. Both Harvard and the M.I.T. have devoted 30 million dollars to the project.
M.I.T. was the first of the pair to enter the field of massively open online courses with MITx. The first course taught by MITx was Circuits and Electronics.
This course enrolled approximately 120 thousand students of those, only about 10 thousand students made it through to the midterm exam for the course.
Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, spoke about the potential impact online education will have, “Online education for students around the world will be the next big thing for education, this is the single biggest change in education since the printing press.”
These online courses will not give a person college credits like regular classes, but will enable the participant to earn a certificate of mastery. Which will show a mastery of the subject that the course taught. The certificates of mastery according to edX officials will not be issued under the Harvard or Massachusetts Institute of Technology name, but probably under the edX name. Education experts have stated that these certificates have the potential of being accredited as the program gains more credibility and acceptance in education.
The target participant in this program is someone with an Internet connection, edX official statement is, “edX will be available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection, and in general, there will not be an admissions process [...]”
EdX will begin offering five courses in the fall. These courses will span a wide variety of disciplines, including the humanities. However, assessing the progress of a student in a humanities course can be difficult, as essays are a common method of demonstrating subject mastery. A possible option to deal with this problem is the use of mass peer review of papers.
The technology that edX will use is an open-source online learning platform that uses programs designed specifically for online education. The program will utilize self-paced learning, online discussion groups, and assessments as students’ progress through the course. Harvard and M.I.T. officials said that they would be using the edX platform to research and test teaching methods. This research and data will benefit the program and teaching at the universities. Alan M. Garber elaborated that in five years online education will be very different from we are doing today, the technology and expertise is constantly developing.
The future of education is proposed to extend further than the physical classroom. Online programs such as edX aim to be a launch point for higher education expansion to those around the world. When asked about this new evolution in education and its potential, Baruch freshman Jessie Mavraganis commented, “Yeah, I think there is a future for this program, it’ll absolutely change how education can be done.”