Colleges in area partner with edX for class credit

Bunker Hill, MassBay to adapt 6.00x in 2013

EdX now has now broken into the community college sphere. President of edX, Anant Agarwal, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced yesterday at a press conference that students at Bunker Hill and Massachusetts Bay Community Colleges would be able to take an adapted version of 6.00x for credit starting in Spring 2013. This is the first partnership of edX with a community college and one of the first times a private institution (such as MIT or Harvard) has collaborated with a public institution to improve the quality of class content, according to Paul Reville, Massachusetts secretary of education.

Last month, edX also partnered with the entire University of Texas system to provide a “blended model” of education, said UT system officials. The UT system announcement was the first time edX was concretely and repeatedly described as a way for other American universities to give its students access to courses previously taken only by Harvard, MIT, or Berkeley students, and Bunker Hill and MassBay CC are next to follow.

The partnership between edX and Bunker Hill and MassBay CC will be funded with $1 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which also gave five (out of nine total university) grants to schools releasing courses to the Coursera platform, according to Coursera’s website.

6.00x on edX is coined as a massive open online course (MOOC) in which students learn the material online, but the material is enhanced with in-class breakout sessions and supporting materials. Bunker Hill and MassBay CC already have online courses, but the blended edX course for Bunker Hill and MassBay CC will “give students an even richer online experience,” Agarwal said, similar to the 6.002x section of 6.002 (Circuits) offered at MIT last year.

“The new course will provide students with the flexibility they need, especially for commuting students,” Agarwal said at the press conference yesterday.

According to the press release, the collaboration aims to build upon edX and community college data-driven research to examine the advantages of a blended classroom model that utilizes edX’s MOOC content, consisting of innovative learning methodologies and game-like educational experiences.

This offering of 6.00x is not the first trial of a blended class that edX has undertaken. Currently, students in ESG and Concourse 8.01 use materials on the edX platform to enhance learning.

“The expansion of online learning is fundamentally changing the way students learn and teachers teach,” Patrick said at the press conference.

The President of MassBay Community Colleges, John O’Donnell, also gave his praises to the collaboration, saying that the edX is “one of the most substantial, innovative ventures in the public education centers since the GI bill.”