Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This is a game changer for higher education

For several years now many colleges and universities have been trying to understand how to take advantage of the internet.  Lots of them have been putting content up on the internet, for example making some of their classes available via streaming video.

But few universities have offered any kind of proof that a student has mastered the content.

MIT Will Offer Certificates to Outside Students Who Take Its Online Courses starts with:

Millions of learners have enjoyed the free lecture videos and other course materials published online through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare project. Now MIT plans to release a fresh batch of open online courses—and, for the first time, to offer certificates to outside students who complete them.

The credentials are part of a new, interactive e-learning venture, tentatively called MITx, that is expected to host "a virtual community of millions of learners around the world," the institute will announce on Monday.

Here's how it will work: MITx will give anyone free access to an online-course platform. Users will include students on the MIT campus, but also external learners like high-school seniors and engineering majors at other colleges. They'll watch videos, answer questions, practice exercises, visit online labs, and take quizzes and tests. They'll also connect with others working on the material.

The first course will begin around the spring of 2012. MIT has not yet announced its subject, but the goal is to build a portfolio of high-demand courses—the kind that draw more than 200 people to lecture halls on the campus, in Cambridge, Mass. MIT is investing "millions of dollars" in the project, said L. Rafael Reif, the provost, and the plan is to solicit more from donors and foundations.

Once top universities start making quality education at internet prices I think average universities are going to have to reevaluate what exactly they are providing, and many average and below average universities are going to see an implosion in enrollment.

Hat tip: Instapundit

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