Last updated: 02.05.12

Harvard and MIT partner over online learning

Two of the US's most prestigious universities are to collaborate and offer special online learning classes.

The presidents of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will announce details of the arrangement at a news conference tomorrow (May 3rd), the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Susan Hockfield and her Harvard counterpart Drew Faust are to host the event in Cambridge, Massachusetts and although full information is not yet available, it is likely the offering will build on existing online programmes that are offered by both universities.

The AP notes MIT has been offering free material from over 2,000 classes over the internet through its OpenCourseWare programme for ten years, with the information accessed by over 100 million people. It has also introduced MITx - a special certificate for those who carry out certain courses online.

Launched in December 2011, MITx is designed to "offer exciting, challenging and enriching courses to anyone, anywhere, who has the motivation and ability to engage MIT's educational content" and uses interactive courses that students can use to learn at their own pace.

MITx also allows learners to interact with each other in online discussion groups and access collaborative learning wikis.

The university said at the launch of MITx that it hopes other educational institutions around the world "will adapt and use the platform to publish their own educational content online for the benefit of learners".

Harvard also offers online extension courses to the wider community and the partnership between the two universities could build on the existing offerings of the two, which are not the only organisations to embrace online learning.

In the US, Yale and Stanford have also looked into providing learning materials on the web, while distance learning specialist the Open University offers an array of online courses in the UK.