UC Berkeley Set to Join Harvard, MIT with Free Online Courses

The University of California Berkeley is now jumping on board with other renowned institutions such as Harvard and MIT in order to begin offering free online courses to students who are interested in furthering their education through these institutions. This announcement follows in the wake of the development of a program called EdX, which is the platform on which these courses will be based.

What Is EdX All About?

EdX is a platform that was brought into the educational limelight in 2011, and it allows students the opportunity to complete courses offered by institutions such as Harvard through an online forum. This program not only allows students and lecturers the chance to interact with each other on discussion boards, it also provides them with the opportunity to complete their assignments and write their exams through this medium. In a recent statement made by Harvard, the institutions will be offering students the chance to sign up for 7 different classes based on 3 faculties, and all they need to do to enroll is ensure that they have access to the internet.

Making Education More Freely Available

With student debt on the rise, many prospective students are struggling to pay off their tuition fees, and this means that there are many who will not have the opportunity to enroll at a university. By offering free online courses, institutions around the country are providing learners with the chance to further their education without putting them under financial strain. According to the president of EdX, Anant Agarwal, there are over 120 institutions that are clambering to join with this new venture, although the group is going to tread carefully before opening up the floodgates at this point.

Covering The Costs Of Online Classes

At the moment, students are able to sign up for the classes and receive their certificates upon completion without payment, but this might be set to change in the future. According to Agarwal, it is estimated that EdX will probably charge around $100 per course in order to cover their costs in the future, although they might alter this price when it comes to students from countries with lower incomes.

In order to get this project firmly off the ground, donations have been made to the venture which will cover the costs of the courses, as well as assist in researching any weaknesses that the program might have. Those that have donated sums in the past include the Gates Foundation, which contributed $1 million and is aimed at experimenting with the “flipped classroom” paradigm, in which students will take the EdX classes at a local college. Universities such as MIT and Harvard have also promised $30 million to the program.

The Era Of The Online Classroom

It seems as if it is only a matter of time before online learning becomes a staple part of the educational community and a strong force in determining whether lower-income students, as well as those constrained by geographic and time elements, have access to higher education.