The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has set up a new online learning initiative, MITx.
It rolled out its first course today (March 5th), which is called Circuits and Electronics (6.002x).
MITx was unveiled in January, but registration for this virtual learning environment began in February and so far, over 90,000 individuals have signed up for this initial course, which is described as an "educational prototype" by the institution.
MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) Anant Agarwal set up 6.002x, as well as the technological platform it utilises.
It is based upon the facility's 6.002 EECS introductory course for undergraduates and will introduce students to the module, helping them to transit from knowledge of physics to the skill set needed for computer science and engineering.
"We are eager to see how MITx courses can add even greater value to our traditional, time-tested approach to teaching," MIT provost L Rafael Reif declared.
He claimed the online learning platform will enable members of the public from beyond MIT's campus to experience the facility's teaching, "offering new connections between the institute and learners around the world".
"This is an exciting day," added Mr Reif, who has spent the last four years leading a concerted effort by the educational provider to examine the possibilities offered by online innovations.
"We are delighted that so many people have signed up for our first course," he stated, noting MIT will learn a great deal about how to improve the effectiveness of online learning as a result of their participation.
MITx is non-profit and can provide everyone in the world with the ability to receive all of a course's content for free. Individuals can pay a small fee to obtain a credential demonstrating they have mastered the e-learning material on the module.
The virtual learning environment will involve demonstrations, lectures, an online interactive laboratory, practice exercises and homework assignments, with people expected to spend around ten hours every week on the course.
The 6.002x module will conclude on June 8th 2012 and upcoming subjects will become available in autumn of this year.