Harvard and MIT recently announced a joint venture they are calling edX. Beginning in the fall of 2012, edX will offer free online classes to anyone who can access the Internet. Both institutions are claiming edX is "not a Harvard or MIT lite," but it will be hosting content from actual classes at both universities. The vision behind edX is to extend both institutions’ commitment to improving education for everyone–including those on campus and around the world.
EdX is built from MITx, a technology platform from MIT designed to offer online versions of their courses, and will include the following types of content:
- video lessons
- embedded testing
- real-time feedback
- student-ranked questions and answers
- collaborative web-based laboratories
- student-paced learning
However, MIT and Harvard state that the goal is not to replace the traditional undergraduate model, but to "serve to improve and supplement the teaching and learning experienced at both universities."
Would they ever work to replace the traditional model? Of course not. The undergraduate teaching model is extremely profitable, especially at expensive schools like Harvard and MIT. Online teaching is touted as "disruptive," but then positioned only as an enhancement for (paid-for) classroom instruction.
The edX project also seeks collaboration with other universities to include other teachers and courses: "Harvard and MIT have created edX open source software and invite interested institutions to join edX with their own educational content." They will also use edX to monitor and research how students learn and how technology can further facilitate teaching.
You can watch the full press conference at edxonline.org.
Do you think other institutions will take advantage of the edX open source platform and join in? Do you believe online teaching will ever be truly "disruptive"?