One of the things I’ve been a big fan of and something which gets very little press is the iUniversity or iU programs on iTunes which puts college course material out in the iTunes store for free download as hey information wants to be free right? Here I’ve taken all kinds of courses, nanotechnology, to rhetorical argument and from top notch schools such as Stanford and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) .
As it’s the later (MIT) which for a decade now as been putting its teaching materials as well as lectures online using the OpenCourseWare platform which is a great thing. However what is even better is the university has now announced it will leverage those same materials to provide an online certification program. The MITx certificate program which it is currently named won’t have the same weight as a full MIT degree (which costs a boat load of money). Yet will indicate mastery of specific subject areas with the entire system being built on top of an open-source software platform.
The other positive out of this is by using this “common” platform it may also enable other universities to follow in MIT’s footsteps which is a good thing for a nation starved for higher education. As the system will provide a complete online learning environment for the student including labs and the possibility for interactions with other students.
In addition, once the course work is completed students will have earned the chance to demonstrate their mastery of the topic, through an online test or formalized interactions with MIT staff. The pay piece if you will here is for the resulting certificate, however the word on the street is that they’ll be a whole lot cheaper than an MIT education. Rest assured too that both OpenCourseWare and the MITx teaching materials will still remain free as it will be the certificate which will carry a cost.
Rumor has it that the initial round of tests with the system will take place in the spring of 2012 and once the bugs are worked out, more courses will be rolled out. Again all of this is good stuff for a nation which is starved for higher education as the cost of entry for these major schools and the information they provided is much needed. As I can tell you first hand as I’ve gone to crappy schools and I’ve gone to good schools (MIT) and there is a difference, at MIT I got to meet the movers and shakers and hear their ideas first hand, and when I went to crappy schools where I was told, while let’s not go there…