In the world of Science and Technology three little letters on your resume can make all the difference, especially if those three letters are MIT. Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT – is one of the worlds leading education institutions that is also a powerhouse for research and development. Not only are MIT’s course subjects leading edge but the way courses are being delivered is going through an online revolutionary.
MIT’s latest education initiative, MITx isn’t just a platform to make their courses available online, they’ve been doing that for 10 years through the OpenCourseWare – OCW – program that has served over 2,100 courses to more than 100 million people world-wide. Instead MITx is a complete open source education platform. Other education institutions – public or private - are free to join and integrate MITx into their own education platform.
“MIT has long believed that anyone in the world with the motivation and ability to engage MIT coursework should have the opportunity to attain the best MIT-based educational experience that Internet technology enables. OpenCourseWare’s great success signals high demand for MIT’s course content and propels us to advance beyond making content available. MIT now aspires to develop new approaches to online teaching.” said MIT President Susan Hockfield
MITx and OCW are closely related, with OCW maintaining the content and MITx providing the tools and a new interface. With an interactive learning platform and collaborative learning tools MITx provides the next generation online learning platform. This should over time create a single education platform that operates over many educational institutes, building an community and allowing the platform to expand the collaborative nature of education.
Course material will take advantage of the interactive nature of the online environment, allowing students to study at their own pace. While studying students can take advantage of the interactive online laboratories and student to student communication. Students will be able to have individual assessments when required, allowing students who demonstrate a mastery of the subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx – for a nominal fee -. MIT degrees won’t be directly available through MITx, MIT’s highly selective admissions process for students is still required for that.
MITx is also intended to be used by on-campus MIT students. Providing tools that allow easily access to the required course material and studies, adding to the resources available to on campus students.
“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.
MIT plans to launch an experimental prototype version of MITx in the spring 2012 time-frame, with the public release late in 2012 all going well. Much forethought and social conscience is being displayed by MIT in making MITx fully open to the public, a grand gesture indeed. For those amongst us with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge or those simply searching for answers MITx represents a valuable resource from a trusted and learned institution. Hitting the books is now an option for everyone thanks to MIT’s education revolution.