MIT to Offer Certificates to Students Taking Free Courses on the Web

It hap­pens at least a few times a day. Stu­dents look through our list of 400 Free Online Cours­es, and ask us whether they can get a cer­tifi­cate for tak­ing a class. And, unfor­tu­nate­ly, our answer has been no — no, you can’t. But that may be about to change.

Ear­li­er this fall, Stan­ford launched a high­ly-pub­li­cized series of free cours­es that offer stu­dents some­thing nov­el: the abil­i­ty to take tests and receive a “state­ment of accom­plish­ment” from the instruc­tor — though not the school itself — if they pass the class. (Stan­ford will launch 14 more cours­es start­ing in Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary. Click link for details.)

Now, MIT wants to up the ante on the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of free cours­es. Start­ing next spring, the uni­ver­si­ty, already famous for its Open­Course­Ware project, will launch MITx, an e‑learning ini­tia­tive that will offer cer­tifi­cates to stu­dents demon­strat­ing mas­tery of free MIT cours­es. Accord­ing to a new set of FAQs, the cer­tifi­cates won’t bear MIT’s name. Rather, “MIT plans to cre­ate a not-for-prof­it body with­in [MITx] that will offer cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for online learn­ers of MIT course­work. That body will car­ry a dis­tinct name to avoid con­fu­sion.” The cours­es will be free; the cer­tifi­cates will cost just a “mod­est” sum. It’s all a big step in the right direc­tion.

UPDATE: You can find a list of free cours­es offer­ing cer­tifi­cates from great uni­ver­si­ties here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

MIT Intro­duces Com­plete Cours­es to Open­Course­Ware Project

Down­load The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Cre­den­tial (Free eBook)

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