Monday, January 16, 2012

Attend MIT for Free

Now that I have your attention let me say that the title is a bit of a misnomer. As it turns out MIT will be starting a new online program in 2012 called MITx. Now that in itself is nothing too exciting. Just about every university has some sort of online program. So what is special about this one. Well this is what MIT says:

  • organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace
  • feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
  • allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
  • operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.
That is all very well and good but still what's the big deal, you say? Well, it's FREE. That's right, you, your neighbour, mom, sister, pastor, mechanic and any other acquaintance you have can take an MIT online course for FREE. Have I mentioned that it's FREE?

So, what's the catch you say? Well, the catch is that you can take any course for free and take as long as you want but in the end you don't get any credentials. However, students who demonstrate mastery of any particular set of course material can receive a certificate of completion for a "modest fee".

So no good, right? Actually I think this is true open source. For someone who is highly motivated, you can get a top level education for nothing. Lets face, it. A university degree is only worth the amount of work you put into it. The paper really isn't worth much. And many more businesses are in the habit of rewarding actual ability and not paper credentials. This could be the great equalizer. Free post secondary education for everyone. Vive la revolution!.

For more info here is the MIT announcement and FAQ page as well as the NY Times article about it.

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