A Free MIT Education = MITx

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Yes, earning a degree from MIT can be costly. Believe it or not, MIT has been offering free course materials for ten years now. If you're an educator, and you're not familiar with their extraordinary OpenCourseWare, you're missing out. One hundred million people so far have learned from this free open source.

OpenCourseWare, a free online publication of nearly all of MIT's undergraduate and graduate course materials. Now in its 10th year, OpenCourseWare includes nearly 2,100 MIT courses and has been used by more than 100 million people.

MIT announced today that OpenCourseWare was just the beginning, and that Provost L. Rafael Reif is leading a new effort, MITx, to be launched Spring 2012. From their press release: {with my emphasis}

MIT will make the MITx open learning software available free of cost, so that others -- whether other universities or different educational institutions, such as K-12 school systems -- can leverage the same software for their online education offerings.

"Creating an open learning infrastructure will enable other communities of developers to contribute to it, thereby making it self-sustaining," said Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). "An open infrastructure will facilitate research on learning technologies and also enable learning content to be easily portable to other educational platforms that will develop. In this way the infrastructure will improve continuously as it is used and adapted." Agarwal is leading the development of the open platform.

President Hockfield called this "a transformative initiative for MIT and for online learning worldwide. On our residential campus, the heart of MIT, students and faculty are already integrating on-campus and online learning, but the MITx initiative will greatly accelerate that effort. It will also bring new energy to our longstanding effort to educate millions of able learners across the United States and around the world. And in offering an open-source technological platform to other educational institutions everywhere, we hope that teachers and students the world over will together create learning opportunities that break barriers to education everywhere."

Sign me up! I wish I were still a student. Wait a minute - that's the beauty of being an educator. I will always be a student. I can't wait to begin exploring MITx.

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My local library has books full of information on a wealth of subjects. They are all free and open to all. Some of them are textbooks, which include not only "lecture" material, but also problems and examples.

In what way is MIT's offering better than the books to which any interested citizen has had access for decades?

By Michael Richmond (not verified) on 19 Dec 2011 #permalink