Harvard online learning: ‘five years from now will look very different from what we do now’

by Grace

Last week Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced their new partnership, known as edX, will offer free online courses.

Harvard’s involvement follows M.I.T.’s announcement in December that it was starting an open online learning project, MITx. Its first course, Circuits and Electronics, began in March, enrolling about 120,000 students, some 10,000 of whom made it through the recent midterm exam. Those who complete the course will get a certificate of mastery and a grade, but no official credit. Similarly, edX courses will offer a certificate but not credit.

Coursera and Udacity, two other MOOCs (massively open online courses) from elite universities have also recently been announced.  This online thing seems to be taking off, accompanied by ardent predictions from educators.

“My guess is that what we end up doing five years from now will look very different from what we do now,” said Provost Alan M. Garber of Harvard …

“Online education is here to stay, and it’s only going to get better,” said Lawrence S. Bacow, a past president of Tufts who is a member of the Harvard Corporation.

President John Hennessy of Stanford summed up the emerging view in an article by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker, “There’s a tsunami coming.”

Online learning is not brand new, but David Brooks makes a point about the recent entry by the most selective institutions:

But, over the past few months, something has changed. The elite, pace-setting universities have embraced the Internet. Not long ago, online courses were interesting experiments. Now online activity is at the core of how these schools envision their futures….

What happened to the newspaper and magazine business is about to happen to higher education: a rescrambling around the Web.

Rescrambling.  Makes me think of this.

You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.


One Comment to “Harvard online learning: ‘five years from now will look very different from what we do now’”

  1. But I don’t doubt that their online ventures are targeted at the international crowd, too. Maybe they’ll be more profitable than their on-location campuses.


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