Gates Foundation Backs Online College Courses
EdX, an online, college course iniative founded by Harvard and MIT, has now receivied substantial backing from the Gates Foundation to the tune of $1 million in order to fund a new test program in which edX’s online course materials will be utilized in a classroom environment.
The program is designed as a way of allowing Ivy League academic content to be used within local courses anywhere in the world. The first course to be implemented in this test program will be “MITx 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming” at two community colleges in Massachusetts: Bunker Hill and MassBay, allowing students at these schools to use the same materials, possibly even recordings of lectures, as their contemporaries at Harvard and MIT.
According to Professor Annant Argwal, president of edX, the use of edX’s course materials and lectures could represent a fiscally sound new method for colleges to ensure the best education possible for their students without having to spend much extra.
“Our technology and innovative teaching methods have the potential to transform the way community college students learn, both in and out of the classroom,” said Prof Agarwal.
As massive open online courses (MOOCS) are becoming an increasingly important topic in how college students will be learning in the years to come, the decision to attempt integration of the academic material found in these online courses into traditional classroom education may be a harbinger of a new model for classroom education in a digital age.
Among those who seem convinced that this new model has merit is none other than John O’Donnell, president of MassBay Community College, which serves a diverse populace of 13,000 students. To O’Donnell, the prospect of allowing students to still interact with other students and an instructor while utilizing instructional content from some of the world’s most prestigious universities allows for a new dynamic in the college experience.
“Community college professors are both teachers and mentors to our students. The blended classroom model allows our professors greater one-to-one contact with our students, allowing for greater course content mastery and application,” said John O’Donnell, president of MassBay Community College.