MIT to offer labs, certificates to virtual students

BOSTON Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:01pm EST

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Richard Schrock illustrates a double carbon bond at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 5, 2005. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Richard Schrock illustrates a double carbon bond at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 5, 2005.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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BOSTON (Reuters) - The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is developing technology that will allow students taking courses online to use simulated labs, interact with professors and other students, and earn certificates.

"The driver is to reach everyone out there who can't be here," MIT Provost Rafael Reif said on a conference call with reporters on Monday.

MIT is already known for its OpenCourseWare program, which offers some 2,100 courses online for free.

Until now, students worked through MIT course material on their own and were never tested. Beginning in a few months, however, they will be able to see sought-after professors in videos, engage in student discussion groups, and take examinations.

"It is making MIT available on a grand planet scale," said Anant Agarwal, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. "This is a great way to marry our mission in education and our mission in research."

Students wanting to earn certificates through MIT's online program will have to pay a fee, university officials said, adding that fees had not yet been set. It cost $40,732 to attend MIT for one year on camput in 2011-2012.

University officials stressed that the program would not replace the campus experience and that online courses would be just as rigorous as those conducted outside the virtual world. "This is not MIT-lite," Reif said.

Since the OpenCourseWare program was launched nearly a decade ago, more than 100 million people have studied subjects ranging from Anthropology to Gender Studies. Courses in Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus have been among the most popular, MIT said.

Other U.S. schools, including Stanford and Yale, offer similar online learning programs.

MIT, renowned for teaching the sciences, has committed millions of dollars to the program and said it expected to raise additional money from foundations and other sources.

It said it would eventually develop other Internet-based options, including online assessments.

(Reporting By Svea Herbst-Bayliss)

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Comments (1)
Thebahadingo wrote:
Not many of us have had the opportunity to attend higher education and even fewer of us have had the opportunity to attend an ivy league school. Schools like M.I.T, Yale and Harvard among others providing open courseware are a god send for those like myself seeking an intellectual boost. I can’t wait for the courses to become officially certified. One already has in my opinion gained some sense of accomplishment when completing a series of lectures and notes but there is a need I feel to be tested to assure that what I’ve just learnt sticks. I hope those providing open courseware will keep in mind that there are many of those who did not attend college or university because of financial obstacles and a high fee for these now free courses may drive many intelligent followers seeking mental growth away. Completed Prof.Shelly Kagans lecture series Yale, Prof.Jeremy Wolfe Cognitive sciences lecture series M.I.T and currently following aeronautics courses from TU Delft. I thank these schools for giving me a young island boy from the bahamas a chance to study fields at a level self appropriate. Anyone out there interested in talking about modern day applications to Sub orbital systems and other aeronautic designs under the guidance of fluid dynamics……… treythetrey@hotmail.com

Dec 19, 2011 7:40am EST  --  Report as abuse
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