“edX represents a unique opportunity to improve education on our own campuses through online learning, while simultaneously creating a bold new educational path for millions of learners worldwide,” MIT President Susan Hockfield said.
edX is a massive open online course (MOOC) platform with more than 1.2 million users. The two institutions have each contributed $30 million of resources to the non-profit project. The first course, Circuits and Electronics, began in December 2011, through MITx. Today there are more than 28 schools that offer or plan to offer courses on the edX website.
“So, what makes edX different?”
Amongst other players like Udacity, Coursera, etc. edX has established its own territory and is evolving to become an innovative platform for future learning. With big names of MIT and Harvard attached to it, edX has many pros and cons over its competition. Yet the structure is so well defined that it is believed to be a unique solution for the problems faced in online education.
Each of the similar MOOC providers have their own online learning platform. The main differences between them are the variety of courses offered and the structure and ease and style of delivery of these courses.
Full Length Syllabus
The courses offered by many colleges now have a prescribed syllabus, supporting video or audio recordings, and lecture transcriptions in the form of presentations, links, etc. However, due to often missing links or broken videos it has become rather annoying for many students. They cannot provide the same experience as traditional or regularly-enrolled online students, because of some copyright rules and other regulations. Basically, students are left on their own to fill in the holes and gain what they could from the resources that were available.
edX is trying to change that by offering full length and user-oriented interactive online courses to the public at no cost. The courses will itself include all the contents students need for that particular subject. Additionally, the courses will offer students the ability to interact with the class content and with each other. Students can take quizzes to receive instant feedback, discuss the subject on course forums, and even engage themselves in online laboratories.
Quality vs. Quantity
Most of the MOOCs’ lecture supplements are mainly series of video lectures, practice questions, and short programming assignments with a very low difficulty level. To be sure, it's actually a great strategy but it doesn't feel much like the courses one takes physically at a campus of MIT, Harvard or Stanford.
edX's courses, in comparison, feel much more like a full-fledged college-level course (granted, it's a newbie in the sector of online Learning). The video lectures go through the basic concepts quickly, and then they're accompanied by a series of short questions that directly relate to lecture material. The course contents and the quizzes all look like, they have been plucked right from the campus class.
edX seems to have a focus on bringing the more dynamic and practical aspects of learning, like live programming and building circuits, to the online platform, while other platforms are (so far) relying mostly on multiple-choice quiz questions or comparatively easier programming assignments.
As we know that for any technology-based strategy, it's not just the new idea itself that will make the world a better or worse place. But, it’s how the new idea is implemented that makes the difference. MOOCs in general have just a series of online lectures conducted by a university professor as the core-concept and from there, the spark starts. A student could work through an online course off-campus, relying on discussion forums and email to converse with classmates and instructors. The class might be "flipped," meaning students take in lectures online and then meet with a professor in a classroom where discussions, case studies and mentoring take place. There are endless possibilities and variations, but it all depends upon the learner’s thinking and capability.
International students from developing countries will definitely benefit greatly from edX and similar initiatives. Students who want to learn but don’t have the finances or opportunity to study in such high finance-demanding universities will now be able to gain an education that may not otherwise be a possibility for them.