Online Learning and edX

In 2008, I served as project coordinator as the graduate school I worked for redesigned and relaunched its .edu website (see the website). But we didn’t stop there. We ended up launching three other new sites at the same time (Worldwide Classroom, Resources for Life, and Living Christ Today). It was a great experience that piqued my interest in web communications and provided opportunities to learn quite a bit about web analytics, information architecture, user experience and best practices for web content.

Working on the Worldwide Classroom site opened my eyes to the world of online learning. At the time, I knew that many higher education institutions offered distance learning, but there were really only a few institutions that were brave enough to try offering free online learning. Even MIT had only launched its OpenCourseWare site in 2002.

edX logoThis week, MIT and Harvard announced edX, a new online learning initiative. This partnership will support the development of a new online learning platform. edX will soon invite other institutions to participate by sharing free course content on the open-source platform.

This is significant news. These institutions made hefty investments in the initiative, and they can offer excellent content. Free and paid online learning will certainly continue to be hot topics for the next few years. And if these institutions can successfully deliver education online, then what’s to stop other industries from doing the same? For example, we could see health care groups (e.g., payors, providers) test out online health education programs.

However, some questions remain: Is edX truly an altruistic venture, or will it begin to generate revenue at some point (e.g., through advertising, selling lists, etc.)? Will the platform take off? If so, who will use it? Will users really learn via edX, and how will they know when they’ve mastered a subject?

Read more about edX and online learning: