Monday, February 13, 2017

Free Courses at edX–A Global, Education Community of 10 Million students

Background: edX is an online learning destination and a massive open online course (MOOC) provider. With more than 90 global partners, edX hosts online university-level courses in a wide range of courses from some of the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere. EdX is unique in that it is a nonprofit organization and runs on open-source software.

Mission & Leadership: The edX mission is to increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere; enhance teaching and learning on campus and online; and advance teaching and learning through research. Wendy Cebula, former COO of Vistaprint, is the edX President and Chief Operating Officer while Anant Agarwal is the CEO. Anant (with Gerry Sussman, Chris Terman, and PiotrMitros) taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries. Anant’s  Scientific American work on organic computing was selected as  one of 10 World-Changing Ideas in 2011, and Anant was named in Forbes' list of top 15 education innovators in 2012.

Milestones: May 2012 - edX was founded by scientists from Harvard and MIT; 2013– edX partnered with Stanford; June 2013– edX reached 1 million students; September 2014 - edX announced a high school initiative; October 2014 - edX announced Professional Education courses; March 2015 – edX partnered with Microsoft; April 2015 - edX partnered with Arizona State University to launch the Global Freshman Academy; March 2016 - edX has more than 7 million students taking more than 700 courses online; February 2017 – edX has more than 10 million Users.

How It Works: edX enables anyone wanting to learn, to take free online courses from Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Microsoft, Tsinghua University, The Smithsonian, The University of Texas, Australia National University, Boston University, and others. Getting started is easy - everyone is welcome, courses are open 24/7, and no application is necessary. Students learn from the world's top professors and leading industry experts through captivating lectures and presentations; build knowledge and expertise with interactive labs, experiments, and assessments; and connect with learners from around the globe in easy-to-use discussion forums. Students take courses on their own schedule — anytime, anywhere. It is  best to get started with DemoX - the edX Demo Course.

DemoX: The fun and interactive course is designed to help students explore the edX learning experience. This program is helpful in getting you started before beginning a selected course in edX. DemoX is actually a brief course in itself, showing new students how to take a course on edX, and how to navigate the edX platform and complete their chosen course. Students will also be assisted in choosing a course that best fits their interests, needs, and dreams. Also, DemoX shows students how to connect with others taking the same course; how to answer problems on the edX platform; and how grades work in edX courses.

Subject Areas: The more than 700 courses offered by edX come under the following 30 categories:
Education & Teacher Training
Art & Culture
Biology & Life Sciences
Energy & Earth Sciences
Business & Management
Environmental Studies
Computer Science
Food & Nutrition
Philosophy & Ethics
Data Analysis & Statistics
Health & Safety
Economics & Finance
Social Sciences

Functionality - Nature of edX Courses:  The edX courses consist of weekly learning sequences. Each learning sequence is composed of short videos interspersed with interactive learning exercises, where students can immediately practice the concepts from the videos. The courses often include tutorial videos (that are similar to small on-campus discussion groups), an online textbook, and an online discussion forum where students can post and review questions and comments amongst each other and Teaching Assistants. Where applicable, online laboratories are incorporated into the course. For example, in edX's first MOOC — a circuits and electronics course — Ali Mohamed ( who was the best student) built virtual circuits in an online lab. EdX offers certificates of successful completion and some courses are credit-eligible.

Are edX courses really free? There is no cost for students taking edX courses when they enroll in the audit track mode, which does not offer certificates (but students may print their progress chart, during each course taken, as proof of participation). However, if students want to earn a verified certificate for a course, there is a fee that will vary depending on the course. The fees for the verified track usually range between $50 USD and $300 USD.

Archived Courses: Many of edX’s past courses are available as archives. These courses can only be audited. Some features, such as the discussion forums, may not be available.

Financial Assistance: As a not-for-profit program, edX uses students’ contributions to  provide quality education to everyone around the world. It improves learning through research. While edX has established a minimum fee, many learners contribute more than the minimum to help support the edX mission. The funds go towards class creation and improving edX. Financial assistance is available for those in need.

What is a verified course certificate? For a $25 fee students can verify their identity by submitting a typed sample and uploading their image on a webcam. On subsequent logins, the system makes sure that students identity matches with the previous log in. At the end of the course students get a certificate with the word “verified” on it.

Programs: Those with serious interest in a subject area can take a series of courses and gain a special certificate.  These three  certificates are available:
·         MicroMasters Certificate: A series of Master’s-level courses to advance students’ careers, created by top universities and recognized by companies. MicroMasters Programs are credit-eligible, provide in-demand knowledge and may be applied to accelerate a Master's Degree.
·         Professional Certificate: Designed by industry leaders and top universities to enhance professional skills, Professional Certificates and develop the proficiency and expertise that employers are looking for.
·         XSeries Certificate: Created by world-renowned experts and top universities, XSeries are designed to provide a deep understanding of key subjects through a series of courses.

Getting high school graduates ready for College/ University:
·         edX offer free online test prep and introductory courses to prepare students for college/ university
·         helps bridge the college readiness gap – the difference between what students learn in high school and the knowledge they need to succeed in colleges or universities
·         The program offers specially designed courses from top high schools, secondary schools and universities to help students prepare for test such as : Advanced Placement (AP®) Exams and CLEP® Exams, as well as introductory courses to help students get ahead.  

Getting Started:To explore edX and to try out DemoX, the free edX Demo Course, please click here.

Posted by: Dr. Nat Tuivavalagi

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