Free Online Learning Now Brought to You By Harvard, MIT, and Stanford

Harvard, MIT, and Stanford are collaborating to create a nonprofit computer system that will provide free classes online. This development is a major development that could mean a brighter future for the world of online education.

Harvard and MIT have developed software called edX. Stanford has its own own massive open online courses network. The school will be providing parts of its online internal platform Class2go to edX. This platform has been described as possibly becoming the Linux of online learning education. President of edX, Anant Agarwal said that by making the program open-source, developers from around the world are able to able to add in their own content — blades, as they are called.

“We were hard-pressed to imagine how one organization could develop all the blades needed for all courses,” he said. “In this way, we hope we can very rapidly increase the breadth of the kinds of things that we’re able to support.”

In Stanford’s home state, Darrell Steinberg introduced a particular piece of legislation in the Senate earlier this month. It is a bill that would make it mandatory for California’s private and public universities to give credit for online courses.

“No college student in California will be denied the right to move through their education because they couldn’t get a seat in a course they needed,” Steinberg said. If passed, it would be the first bill of its kind and could set a precedent for other states. However, the proposition has already been met with criticism, including an open letter from the Academic Senate of the University of California who’ve denounced the bill.

Compared to a traditional school bound education, an online education offers flexibility, affordability and the lack of need to take up physical space. Anyone with access to a computer would be able to reap benefit — and even for those without home access can reserve time to gain access to the internet from places such as their local public library. The online option not only gives advantage to students unable to physically sit in a classroom, but also provides opportunity for working adults, some with families, who can work toward getting a degree in the comfort of their home.