Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 3rd May 2012 16:25 UTC, submitted by Modafinil
In the News "EdX is a joint partnership between The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to offer online learning to millions of people around the world. EdX will offer Harvard and MIT classes online for free. Through this partnership, the institutions aim to extend their collective reach to build a global community of online learners and to improve education for everyone." They really have nothing to lose here. People who want to go to MIT or Harvard will go regardless, and people who otherwise would have no interest in them may be exposed to them. Smart move.
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Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Thu 3rd May 2012 18:18 UTC
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Exciting development.

Reply Score: 2

by Modafinil on Thu 3rd May 2012 18:22 UTC
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This scheme is perfect for those who can't afford to go to University or have other responsibilities that prevent them from attending.

The fact that MIT & Harvard will get lots of lovely data about how people learn they wouldn't otherwise have makes it a win-win situation for all concerned.

Reply Score: 2

by fran on Thu 3rd May 2012 19:01 UTC
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Also note the Saylor foundation.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Saylor
by mahiyu on Thu 3rd May 2012 20:18 UTC in reply to "Saylor"
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Thanks for that - recently I've been thinking of doing an Open University course just for fun but can't justify the fees, something like this is just what I need ;)

Reply Score: 2

Good idea.
by jefro on Thu 3rd May 2012 21:34 UTC
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I have been a big fan of "the tough get going." I prefer that people who have a desire to learn have a chance not some random or capricious set of rules to favor some other others. The brightest ought to rise to the the top despite a hardship of money.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Good idea.
by Doc Pain on Fri 4th May 2012 01:38 UTC in reply to "Good idea."
Doc Pain Member since:

The brightest ought to rise to the the top despite a hardship of money.

What funny-colored fairy kingdom are you living in? :-)

Money (be it the own or of the parents) has always selected (and I'm intendedly using this word full of unpleasant connotations) what educational career one will take, and which in turn predefines what working career will be lived. Children of poor parents typically attend "low school forms", hardly sufficient to teach proper reading and writing, and they are made comfortable with the fact that this will be their future: being poor, unemployed or working hard for a ridiculous low wage.

On the other hand, look into upper management, company heads, "decision makers" and "important persons": You'll (not) be surprised what bozos, idiots and examples of human stupidity you'll find there. Many of them even have academic degrees, but are too dumb to hammer a nail into the wall. And some of them are even a fake!

(Note that I'm making this statement from my indivual point of view toward "my" german society. There may be a better, more social and ethic situation in different countries on our planet.)

Of course I judge free education as a good idea. Those who are willing to learn are given the chance to do so. Sadly, lerning is considered a waste of time in many cases, as the belief that "everything is on Wikipedia" negates the need for any individual knowledge.

A problem might be when you need to prove your knowledge. "Established universities" and "unquestioned authorities" typically issue shiny papers with a signature and a rubber stamp that you can compose your individual "wall of fame" with, as often seen on TV in the back of "clever persons". In many branches of business, those certificates count - even though they are worthless as (a) anyone can get them by paying, not by learning things, and (b) they are irrelevant for practical job requirements.

If online education (in general) could be combined with the creation of those paper documents (even if you can print them yourself!), maybe the gap between "what you actually know" and "what you have a shiny paper of" can be narrowed. Again, the problem of manipulation and a "trusted authority" arises.

Of course, in reality, it's soon obvious if a certificate is worth more than the paper it is printed on. Sadly people tend to ignore it, and so precious working places are occupied by unqualified douchebags who happened to have the "right" kind of documents when intially having applied for the job. (You can see a proof of that by looking into corporate reality, IT security, IT installations, IT contracting and so on.)

The big complex of "free online education" is very important for countries that "we, the developed western world" call "inferior". People living in such countries seem to have much more interest in learning things than "us lazy people" have. Those countries can really benefit from the availability of quality (!) educational material, and they may become the suppliers of the next waves (generations) of inventors and creators.

(Note that people living in the realm of "just works" typically don't invent or create things. They depend on others to do so because they are unable to understand the simplest mechanisms of what they use day by day. If things break, they are helpless.)

Removing the need to have sufficient money in order to acquire knowledge is something that benefits mankind as a whole.

Please try to understand: The average ones, the "normal" people, have never achieved something in history. It has always been the tinkerers, the hackers, the "strange ones" who have invented and created things, the autodidacts, the "want to know everything" guys, those who weren't comfortable with "you don't need to know that" -- the exceptions of mankind have been the reason for evolution in so many fields. And it's worth noting that the "average mass" can be blamed for all the bad things that happened in history, because they were to stupid to recognize things happening... or just didn't care, which seems to be today's default attitude (due to being comfortable with the status quo, and the belief that all upcoming problems will be solved by others, or will solve theirselves magically).

Reply Score: 4

MIT on Youtube
by kwan_e on Fri 4th May 2012 02:05 UTC
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MIT has an excellent discussion panel on their Youtube channel about their Open Courseware. It's a testament to them that most of the staff were already on board right from the beginning.

Short-sighted people will focus on how this may result in less fee paying students. Long-sighted people will focus on just how many more people will be applicable for post-graduates and researchers.

Reply Score: 3

Stanford Online Courses
by Jondice on Fri 4th May 2012 04:03 UTC
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This is exciting news, but I'd just like to point out that to my knowledge, Stanford has really spearheaded free online courses from universities. Open courseware was an interesting start but didn't (still doesn't? I haven't checked recently) include lecture videos.

Some of these engineering courses are really amazing (Boyd's lectures are pretty great; no certificate for any of these):

My wife has been trying out the game theory course, and Stanford has added a few courses from other top universities and started a non-profit organization to act as a portal for all of these:
I believe most (all) of the coursera courses give certificates.

There are even more places to get free online courses or lectures, and I'll just post a few that I can find quickly - sorry for leaving anything out.

In the EdX video they mentioned the Khan Academy:

Lifehacker recently posted some resources:

Edited 2012-05-04 04:08 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Stanford Online Courses
by kwan_e on Fri 4th May 2012 07:06 UTC in reply to "Stanford Online Courses"
kwan_e Member since:

Open courseware was an interesting start but didn't (still doesn't? I haven't checked recently) include lecture videos.

They've had them since 2009, and they now have a dedicated Youtube channel.

I went through half the their Scheme lecture series lectured by the Scheme creators themselves.

Reply Score: 2

Borderline Incompetent
by Slambert666 on Fri 4th May 2012 04:41 UTC
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So far there are no list of courses and no enrollment.
What there is, is a list of corporate BS about how great MIT and Harvard are and how this (so far non existent) initiative is so great.

I admire the initiative but so far the execution looks amateurish and borderline incompetent.

Reply Score: 3

Course Level
by jburnett on Sun 6th May 2012 04:27 UTC
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Is it just me, or does it seem like these free online courses are always freshman (100* level) or sophomore (200* level)? Rarely do I see senior (400* level) or grad level courses.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Course Level
by Jondice on Sun 6th May 2012 16:26 UTC in reply to "Course Level"
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Yes, I think since it is in the early stages they are probably trying to get out stuff that is of broad interest. Some of the SEE courses I listed were nearly 400 level.

MIT Open Courseware has some graduate stuff, but typically not with lecture videos.

Reply Score: 2