Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) opened enrollment for its first automated online class on Monday, the University announced.
The online learning initiative, called "MITx", allows students from all over the world to take an introductory MIT course for free, over the internet. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate, Bloomberg reported.
The class begins March 5 and runs through June 8, and students can register at mitx.mit.edu, according to the University. This first class is free, but future MITx courses will be offered for a small fee.
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Modeled after an introductory course for undergraduate students in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), "Circuits and Electronics" teaches students about the lumped circuit abstraction, according to MIT News. It will be taught by EECS professor and director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) Anant Agarwal, CSAIL co-director Chris Terman, EECS Professor Gerald Sussman, and CSAIL Research Scientist Piotr Mitros.
Though it is taught online, the class is not a "watered down" version of the campus course or "any less intense," a university spokesman told BBC News.
“Anybody anywhere that has the time, motivation, drive to learn this kind of material should be given the opportunity to do so,” MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif told Bloomberg in a phone interview.
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Students will have video lectures, midterm and final exams, weekly deadlines to complete homework and labs, and access to discussion forums, according to Bloomberg. They can expect to spend about ten hours a week on their classwork, according to MIT.
Though many universities already offer online degrees and courses, the MIT proposal is unusual in that it invites students anywhere in the world, without charge or prior entrance requirements, to study for a certificate carrying the MIT brand, BBC reported.