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EdX: Harvard, MIT team up to offer free online courses

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have joined forces to offer online courses to a potential audience of millions.

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Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced on May 2, 2012 that they will be launching a $60 million joint venture called "edX" which will provide a variety of free online courses to learners around the world. (Robert Spencer/AFP/Getty Images)

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced on Wednesday that they have joined forces to offer online courses to a potential audience of millions of learners from around the world, according to the Associated Press.

The $60 million venture, called "edX," will begin this fall and offer a variety of courses developed by the faculty at Harvard and MIT.

Harvard President Drew Faust said, "Anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world can have access," according to the AP.

In December, MIT launched an open online learning project called MITx, offering its first course, Circuits and Electronics, in March to around 120,000 students, said The New York Times. The Times noted that 10,000 made it through the recent midterm exam.

Those who complete the MITx and edX courses will receive a grade and a certificate but no credit.

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EdX will be run by Anant Agarwal, the director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, according to Bloomberg. Agarwal also led the development of MITx.

The course design is still experimental, with the technology for online learning evolving to include video lessons, embedded quizzes and feedback, said The Times.

MIT President Susan Hockfield commented on the academic rivals working together, saying, "One of the best-kept secrets is the profound richness of collaboration between Harvard and MIT," according to Reuters.

Faust said, "EdX gives Harvard and MIT an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically extend our collective reach by conducting groundbreaking research into effective education and by extending online access to quality higher education," according to Reuters.

The Times noted that Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced a partnership with for-profit Coursera earlier this month.

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Here is an introductory video from edXOnline:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120502/edx-harvard-mit-team-offer-free-online-courses