You may have already seen this morning that MIT announced the initiation of a new interactive online learning program, internally called MITx, which will seek to build a virtual community of online learners and allow them to earn certificates for demonstrating mastery of MITx subjects at modest cost. MITx will also serve as a cornerstone of MIT's research into digitally supported teaching and learning. For this initiative, the Institute will develop new online materials to support MITx users, including MIT students. Everything on MITx short of credentialing will be free of charge, and MITx will be built using open-source software made freely available to the world.
MIT OpenCourseWare will continue to be MIT's free and open effort to share the curriculum used at MIT, and the Institute remains fully invested in the program. OCW will publish MIT course materials for free, as we always have, and continue to explore the possibilities of free, open education. OCW will also be enriched by the materials created for MITx programs, which will be shared openly on the OCW site.
We realize there is the potential for confusion regarding these two programs, but the differences are very straightforward.
- a limited number of subjects specifically designed to support the MITx learner
- development of a custom online learning platform
- interactivity with other students and the MIT community
- MITx certificates for demonstrated mastery of subject matter at modest cost to users
- a significant online learning research effort.
- a publication of MIT course materials
- a broad compilation of materials from across MIT programs and departments
- an offering of content without certification or access to MIT faculty or students
- free and open to the world.
We are thrilled to support the MIT community in taking the new step into online learning that MITx represents, and look forward to the innovative content that program will bring to the OCW site. At the same time, we want to assure our many supporters around the world that this announcement strengthens MIT's commitment to OCW and its mission to provide free and open resources to improve teaching and learning worldwide, and that we are here to stay.
Dear MIT Alumni,
Enclosed with this email is a message that Provost Rafael Reif just sent to the MIT on-campus community. We are pleased that the Institute and the Association partnered to ensure that all alumni are informed of this new initiative concurrently with the announcement to the community and the press. If you have questions or comments, please reply to this email or send a message to email@example.com.
We wish you all the best for the holiday season and hope you enjoy a peaceful and prosperous new year.
Executive Vice President & CEO
MIT Alumni Association
To the Members of the MIT Community:
I am writing to share an important announcement released by MIT today. We are launching an online learning initiative with the expectation that MIT can both enhance the educational experience of its on-campus students and eventually host a virtual community of learners around the world. The text of our announcement appears below. You can also find the announcement and related FAQs at http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/mitx-education-initiative-1219.html
This initiative builds upon a decade of MIT dedication to online education begun with OpenCourseWare in 2001. MIT faculty have been working in recent years on the integration of online technologies into the MIT campus learning experience, as well as on reaching learners worldwide through online technologies. The 2009 Institute-Wide Planning Task Force Final Report also urged us to explore scalable educational platforms that use online tools to afford new learning opportunities.
Moreover, in the last couple of years, an MIT-Online Study Group chaired by Professor Dick K. P. Yue, the MIT Council on Educational Technology co-chaired by Professor Hal Abelson and Dean Daniel E. Hastings, and the OCW Faculty Advisory Committee chaired by Professor Shigeru Miyagawa have been exploring a variety of online concepts. We are now advancing these various efforts through the online learning initiative that we internally call "MITx".
We are confident that the inspired creativity of the MIT community will shape this initiative in ways that we have not yet dreamed of. I look forward to working with all of you in building something truly special for MIT and the world.
L. Rafael Reif
MIT launches online learning initiative
"MITx" will offer courses online and make online learning tools freely available
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology today announced the launch of an online learning initiative internally called "MITx". MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform that will:
- 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.
MIT expects that this learning platform will enhance the educational experience of its on-campus students, offering them online tools that supplement and enrich their classroom and laboratory experiences. MIT also expects that MITx will eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.
MIT will couple online learning with research on learning
MIT's online learning initiative is led by MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif, and its development will be coupled with an MIT-wide research initiative on online teaching and learning under his leadership.
"Students worldwide are increasingly supplementing their classroom education with a variety of online tools," said Reif. "Many members of the MIT faculty have been experimenting with integrating online tools into the campus education. We will facilitate those efforts, many of which will lead to novel learning technologies that offer the best possible online educational experience to non-residential learners. Both parts of this new initiative are extremely important to the future of high-quality, affordable, accessible education."
Offering interactive MIT courses online to learners around the world builds upon MIT's OpenCourseWare, a free online publication of nearly all of MIT's undergraduate and graduate course materials. Now in its tenth year, OpenCourseWare includes nearly 2,100 MIT courses and has been used by more than 100 million people.
MIT President Susan Hockfield said, "MIT has long believed that anyone in the world with the motivation and ability to engage MIT coursework should have the opportunity to attain the best MIT-based educational experience that Internet technology enables. OpenCourseWare's great success signals high demand for MIT's course content and propels us to advance beyond making content available. MIT now aspires to develop new approaches to online teaching."
OCW will continue to share course materials from across the MIT curriculum, free of charge.
MITx online learning tools to be freely available
MIT will make the MITx open learning software available free of cost, so that others—whether other universities or different educational institutions, such as K-12 school systems—can leverage the same software for their online education offerings.
"Creating an open learning infrastructure will enable other communities of developers to contribute to it, thereby making it self-sustaining," said Anant Agarwal, an MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. "An open infrastructure will facilitate research on learning technologies and also enable learning content to be easily portable to other educational platforms that will develop. In this way the infrastructure will improve continuously as it is used and adapted." Agarwal is leading the development of the open platform.
President Hockfield called this "a transformative initiative for MIT and for online learning worldwide. On our residential campus, the heart of MIT, students and faculty are already integrating on-campus and online learning, but the MITx initiative will greatly accelerate that effort. It will also bring new energy to our longstanding effort to educate millions of able learners across the United States and around the world. And in offering an open-source technological platform to other educational institutions everywhere, we hope that teachers and students the world over will together create learning opportunities that break barriers to education everywhere."