The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced an initiative to create a learning platform for online education. Preliminarily dubbed “MITx”, the initiative aims to take the MIT’s OpenCourseWare program, which provides nearly all MIT courses for free on the web, and build out an infrastructure that can be used by students to demonstrate mastery of a course and earn a certificate of completion, for a small fee. Furthermore, the platform will be open-source, allowing any educational institution to host their own courses. And while the certificates will not be equivalent to MIT course credits, it’s clear that they have to be earned through an assessment. A prototype is scheduled to go into beta during the spring semester with plans to launch the platform if all goes well. On its surface, this may seem like a way for MIT to make their free online course program profitable, but the heart of this initiative is an effort to change education forever as the educational system is at the breaking point.
This idea of low-cost, top tier secondary education online is a game changer. Current private programs are grossly overpriced. I am reminded of this every time I look at my outstanding student loans.
Practically speaking, the direction MIT is taking with its visionary new extension of the already available free classes it offers, is a transformative game changer.
But the burning question is, will a free, self-learned, online curriculum provide a student the knowledge and skills to be employable? No one yet knows the answer, but blogger Scott Young is trying to find out. He’s taken up the challenge of learning M.I.T’s four-year computer science program on his own in 12 months and chronicling his progress on his blog. Check out his Week 10 vlog where he provides some insight into the process and breaks down the pros and cons of the process vs. traditional school:
This new initiative from MIT sends a clear message: education is changing. It’s becoming free, open and accessible, and it’s only a matter of time before the some kind of course mastery certificate becomes the equivalent of college credits or even a Bachelor’s degree.
I’m subscribing to Scott Young’s feed and planning on following his progress. Maybe you should too. It could change your future.