The new M.I.T.x system will offer certificates of mastery. Image: Flickr / extrudedaluminiu / CC-BY

In October of 2002, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology signed onto a new system called OpenCourseWave that offered M.I.T. classes for free. A new system, called M.I.T.x, will offer free classes – with an option for a certificate of mastery.

Free college courses

OpenCourseWave and M.I.T.x both are online learning systems designed to offer high-level college courses for free. OpenCourseWave posted all class materials and lectures from classes for anyone online to download and study as they wished. OpenCourseWave is used in the United States and incredibly popular in Japan, China and with many other international students. Notre Dame, Tufts, Yale and several other schools use the OpenCourseWave system.

M.I.T.x to offer a certificate

The biggest criticism of OpenCourseWave school options have been that the classes, while possibly effective, also offer no “on paper” credentials for students. M.I.T. is hoping to address this criticism with the new M.I.T.x. Set to launch in spring, with a few classes each semester, M.I.T.x will offer a much more full-scope system of taking M.I.T. classes for free. Online students will be able to watch lectures, participate in discussions and generally be a part of the classes. After completing mastery of a particular subject area, M.I.T.x will offer an affordable certificate of mastery. The exact cost of the certificate has not been determined, but the money will go back into the M.I.T.x nonprofit to help expand the program.

Equalizing the cost of education

OpenCourseWave and now M.I.T.x are attempting to make higher education much more accessible, no matter the financial status of a particular student. The cost of attending traditional college has been steadily rising at a rate far above inflation, and the average student graduating from a four-year college or university comes out with $25,250 in student loan debt and a terrible employment outlook. While the M.I.T.x certificates of mastery will not be degree equivalents, they will offer “on paper” proof of subject mastery that could become equivalent to a degree, in time.


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