When edX was first announced, former MIT President Susan Hockfield called the open-source technology platform a work in progress, but also an act of progress–an act the City of Boston highlighted Tuesday.
Harvard and MIT have announced a pilot project with the City of Boston, which will make online courses available through Internet-connected Boston neighborhood community centers, high schools and libraries for free. Called BostonX, the first-of-its-kind project will provide the city’s residents with access to courses, internships, job training and placement services, as well as locations for edX students to socialize.
“We must connect adults and youth in our neighborhoods with the opportunities of the knowledge economy,” said Mayor Tom Menino in a press release. “BostonX will help update our neighbors’ skills and our community centers.”
The past few weeks have seen twists and turns in the ongoing debate about the quality and worth of online learning, and its role in the future of higher ed. On Jan. 17, Moody's Investor Service downgraded the value of higher education, predicting financial problems for universities and colleges. A few days earlier, schools in California announced that students can take Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for university credit. Last weekend, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lauded MOOCs as the democratizing revolution we've been waiting for. The three major companies providing free online learning -- Coursera, Udacity and edX -- were jubilantly present at Davos. Online university enrollments are on the rise, according to a new industry report, even as overall college enrollments declined.
What are we to make of it all -- is the revolution here?
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