|Weekly News Digest
May 7, 2012 — In addition to this week's NewsBreak(s), the editors have compiled the Weekly News Digest, featuring stories from the week just past that you should know about. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today.
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MIT and Harvard Launch a ‘Revolution in Education’
Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) joined forces to offer free online courses in a project aimed at attracting millions of online learners around the world, the universities announced. Beginning this fall, a variety of courses developed by faculty at both institutions will be available online through the new $60 million partnership, known as “edX.” Through edX, the two institutions will collaborate to enhance campus-based teaching and learning and build a global community of online learners.
EdX will build on both universities’ experience in offering online instructional content. The technological platform recently established by MITx, which will serve as the foundation for the new learning system, was designed to offer online versions of MIT courses featuring video lesson segments, embedded quizzes, immediate feedback, student-ranked questions and answers, online laboratories, and student-paced learning. Certificates of mastery will be available for those who are motivated and able to demonstrate their knowledge of the course material.
MIT and Harvard expect that over time other universities will join them in offering courses on the edX platform. The gathering of many universities’ educational content together on one site will enable learners worldwide to access the course content of any participating university from a single website, and to use a set of online educational tools shared by all participating universities.
EdX will release its learning platform as open-source software so it can be used by other universities and organizations that wish to host the platform themselves. Because the learning technology will be available as open-source software, other universities and individuals will be able to help edX improve and add features to the technology.
MIT and Harvard will use the jointly operated edX platform to research how students learn and how technologies can facilitate effective teaching both on-campus and online. The edX platform will enable the study of which teaching methods and tools are most successful. The findings of this research will be used to inform how faculty use technology in their teaching, which will enhance the experience for students on campus and for the millions expected to take advantage of these new online offerings.
MIT has offered a program called OpenCourseWare for a decade that makes materials from more than 2,000 classes available free online. EdX will be separate from ongoing distance-learning initiatives at both institutions, including MIT OpenCourseWare and courses offered by schools at Harvard such as the Harvard Extension School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Medical School.
Paula J. Hane
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