Over the past few months, the internet community has been buzzing about the enormous potential of the new edX initiative launched by MIT and Harvard.
edX allows individuals from anywhere in the world to take free or low-cost courses on the web. The initiative was launched a few months ago by MIT and recently Harvard University has signed on to provide content. Currently, MIT is offering an enormously popular course in circuitry and electronics for individuals with a strong base in physics. They plan, however, to launch at least five more courses in the fall.
Even more promising, both institutions have allocated over $30 million to the initiative and it is likely that other higher learning institutions will sign on in the future. You can read more about it here in a recent feature in Forbes magazine.
In this period of job shortages and increasingly competitive hiring, the edX program sounds particularly promising. Many employers are requiring higher credentials than ever before despite the fact that students are graduating with enormous student loans and fewer employment opportunities. If a student can show their drive and initiative in taking a free, yet demanding edX course and show a certificate from an institution such as MIT or Harvard, that could really increase their appeal to employers and build important workplace skills without piling on more student debt.
Teachers in particular may be interested in the potential of this initiative, as well. Teachers are required to maintain their certifications with Act 48 continuing education credits. While schools often provide much of the credit through professional development activities, teachers frequently have to supplement these offerings with workshops and courses, often at their own expense. Free, yet rigorous and useful courses through edX could be an exciting opportunity.