Innovation in College Education


MIT Kresge Auditorium

Image via Wikipedia

MIT will begin offering certification for its online courses (HT: Carpe Diem blog).  The online courses are free, but there will be a fee for certification.

The discussion in the comments on Carpe Diem brings up some good points.  Will the certification be worth anything?  Will employers put much stock in it?

One commenter, morganovich, points out that the true value of an MIT degree to an employer is the screening process you go through to get into MIT.  This process won’t be in place for the online courses, since anyone can take them.

He may be right.  Or maybe employers are wrong.  Maybe the screening process of getting into MIT isn’t all that great and this might help some employers figure that out.

It’ll be interesting to see how this evolves.  Here are some things I could see happening.

This might start to unravel the lecture model of higher education.  Maybe while at MIT you end up taking some of online courses on the side, but your core curriculum becomes built around doing more apprentice-like things — starting businesses, working on research projects, working with companies on projects.  Instructor become more like your advisers, mentors and project leaders.

Maybe this happens at your local state schools too, you take MITx online courses part-time and then work on projects the rest of the time.

Perhaps high schools let students take the MITx courses and earn high school credit as well, so they can enter college ahead of the game.

Maybe it does nothing. Maybe a people take the courses, they learn some things and MIT and the rest of higher education persists as is.

Nobody knows, but it’s good to see such storied institutions trying new things.

3 thoughts on “Innovation in College Education

  1. Very interesting, I’ll have to follow this closer. I’m greatly interested in online forms of education, I think it comes from doing correspondence classes through high school.

  2. Another screen that MIT puts you through is the brutal pacing: conscientiousness, time management and especially willingness to conform to outside priorities. You don’t have to go through that if you’re taking the classes at your own pace at home.


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