Thursday, May 23, 2013

Learning Through EdX

I am a nerd.  There, I said it.  I was that kid who always had her nose in a book, whose idea of a good time during road trips was to play trivia and study the road map as we drove, and who got excited when a new encyclopedia showed up in the mail every month.  I went to space camp for crying out loud.  And I liked it.

So when we moved to Turkey and I realized I would have a lot of spare time between my sporadic workload and weekly Turkish lessons, I thought about what I could do to fill my time.  Then I read this article and I thought, why not?

The article reads, in part:

"Over the last year, elite American universities have raced to stake out a place in the new world of free online courses — and now, universities around the globe are following suit...

Meanwhile, edX, a nonprofit venture started by Harvard and M.I.T., is doubling its university partners to 12, adding Rice University, the Australian National University, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and, in Canada, McGill and the University of Toronto...

EdX, which began with a single M.I.T. electrical engineering course taught by Dr. Agarwal, now offers about two dozen courses, a roster that will grow to 50 to 100 next fall.

EdX expects to serve a billion students worldwide over the next decade on its open-source educational platform, Dr. Agarwal said. About 700,000 individuals are using the platform now, he said, with more than 900,000 course enrollments."

College courses offered online? For free?  Sign. Me. Up.

I finished college.  I finished grad school.  I'd never planned on going back for another degree because I didn't want to pay any more than I already have (and still pay) in student loans.  But to have the opportunity to learn and take interesting college courses without having to pay for them?  Yes please.'s course offerings are limited right now, with only a handful of courses offered from various universities in the United States.  But the organization is growing and hopes to offer at least 100 courses within the next year.  

With the cost of earning a college degree getting more expensive every year, it will be interesting to see if this sort of learning phenomenon takes off, or if it does, if it has staying power.  Because I'm sure there are millions of people out there like me who like learning, but don't want to pay the high cost of doing so.  

I have already registered for my first course--Ideas of the 20th Century, which is offered through UT Austin and provides a review of how philosophy, art and literature helped shape the last century.  The class doesn't start until fall, but I am really looking forward to it.  If it goes well, I can see a lot of courses like these in my future.   

Oh, and did I mention it's free? 


  1. That's awesome! I wonder if there are any writing classes on there... I'm off to check it out!

  2. This is amazing! I'm going to have to find one to take, I think Intro to Human Evolution is speaking to me.

  3. It's such a great site, right? I hope you were both able to find a class!