Whether in the hills of Sri Lanka or the hollows of Kentucky the world is now at the fingertips of brilliant people who until a few years ago would have languished in intellectual cul-de-sacs. How taxi cartels resort to desperate measures to kill innovation and save their crumbling industry.
Students can soon earn credit through MIT's free online courses, finish grad degree on campus. A doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reads outside a building at the Cambridge, Mass. In a pilot project announced Wednesday, students will be able to take a semester of free online courses in one of MIT's graduate programs and then, if they pay a "modest fee," earn a "MicroMaster's" degree, the school said. The new degree represents half of the university's one-year master's degree program in supply chain management.
The fee for the MicroMaster's degree amounts to what it now costs to receive a "verified certificate" for finishing online classes, the university said.
Amid the growth of free online courses, some academics predicted that it would spell the end of traditional college courses, and perhaps undermine the need for university degrees. This year, Arizona State University started offering freshman courses online for free, with the option to pay for course credit later at a cost of up to $200 per credit hour.
MIT and Harvard were seen as pioneers in 2011 when they created the provider for free online courses, edX. MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, WashingtonA a€” Achieving universal education is a huge goal for development throughout the world. Developed nations, more often than not, have structured educational systems, granting educational access to the majority of their populations. In order to help bridge the gap and provide education to people who have less access to higher level courses, Harvard and MIT collaborated in 2012 to introduce free online courses.
The initiative took off and many other institutions have joined EdX, including the University of Chicago, the University of Washington and international institutions such as Peking University and the Australian National University.


Fast forward two years later, and MIT and Harvard have released data about the efficiency of their free online courses. Certification and enrollment differ by discourse.A The Computer Science and STEM courses had average certification rates that were about half that of Humanities, History, Religion, Design and Education (HHRDE) and Government and Health and Social Sciences (GHSS) courses a€” seven percent and six percent versus 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively. After analyzing the data, EdX has identified new opportunities and the next steps necessary to continue the programa€™s success. Using this data, there is an opportunity to increase the number of participants and certificate-earners from underrepresented and underserved groups. The second step is to increase and formalize the flow of pedagogical innovations to and from residential courses. The program is creating new opportunities for groups that have not previously had access to advanced courses. Regions currently suffering from lack of educators will have new ways to ensure that professionals can continue learning after high school at their own pace. Though online learning is by no means new, an accredited course offered for free to anyone in the world from one of the finest universities in the world is new.
As part of the pilot project, students who perform well in the online half can apply to finish the second semester on campus, though they would have to pay tuition for that part.
But MIT follows other schools trying to merge those online classes with a university-stamped degree. The Georgia Institute of Technology offers an online master's degree in computer science for $6,600, but the classes can be taken for free without credit. The idea was to spread education far, snipping the tie between knowledge and academic credit. Students who fare well during the online semester will boost their chances of being accepted into the full master's program, the school said. The United Nations has continuously stressed the importance of global education and has specified many priorities to achieve this strategy.


But beyond high school education, university degrees can more often than not be the difference between living in poverty and being well off.
Students can also pay a small fee to receive official certificates as well when fulfilling professional development course requirements.
The results are promising but offer interesting insights into the world of free online education. The first step is to identify course-level and institutional priorities for increased access. There is an opportunity to make the a€?secondarya€? use of open online course resources by teachers a primary goal that will be beneficial for all efforts targeted toward teacher development. New strategies learned in online teaching courses on EdX can be shared with educators around the world, improving efficiency.
MIT is announcing a pilot graduate program and students will take the first part entirely through MOOCs (massive open online courses). At the end, students who start the program online would pay less than those who take the full year on campus. The University of Illinois has an online master's degree in business using a similar model. Although the pilot program will reintroduce course credit, MIT says it's the next step along the same path. This is a promising find, perhaps indicating that those who are engaged in the pursuit of knowledge are willing to utilize the Internet to gain new skills.



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