Education war among universities offering free online courses is slowly heating up as University of California, Berkley has joined Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in their joint venture edX.
UC-Berkley announced Tuesday it would be joining edX, the ambitious free online education project which is standing up to its Silicon-Valley based rival Coursera.
UC Berkeley will offer two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) one in software engineering and the other in artificial intelligence on the edX platform in the fall. These classes will closely follow the on-campus versions although without the personal contact with them and the in-depth research projects.
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Five other courses will be offered by Harvard University and MIT in such topics as solid state chemistry and computer science.
Coursera, which already had partnerships with the University of Michigan, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, announced last week that it would offer more than 100 courses from an expanded roster of 16 top-tier universities, including the California Institute of Technology, Duke University and the University of Virginia.
The decision of UC-Berkley is very significant as several of its professors have already been offering free online courses through Coursera.
"Ultimately, our faculty will decide where they want to put courses up online, but we find that edX has values and methodologies very closely aligned with ours at Berkeley, so our institutional preference would be to use edX," said Robert J. Birgeneau, the chancellor of Berkeley.
However, the main difference between these two MOOC Platforms is while Coursera is for-profit, edX is a non-profit platform.
The president of edX, Anant Agarwal, welcomed the addition of UC Berkeley. "edX is about revolutionising learning, and we have received a tremendous outpouring of excitement and interest from universities around the world."
Apparently, those who finish this fall's MOOCs will get free certificates of completion. Later, edX plans to charge for certificates. The edX courses, like those offered by Coursera, will vary in length, reports NY times.
MITx, created in December 2011, enrolled more than 150,000 students worldwide, ages 14 to 74, in its prototype circuits course. In May, Harvard joined, and the partnership became edX, with each university contributing $30 million. Additional support has since come from individuals and foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.