China’s Universities Get into the MOOC Game via edX Platform

China’s universities are getting in the online education game, and the open source edX platform will be used to deliver MOOCs and other web-based education. 

XuetangX, which is powered by Harvard and MIT’s edX platform, will host a collaboration of the leading universities in China will provide a way for more individuals to enter higher education online, which has already shown potential in countries such as the US and UK, reports Charlie Osborne of ZDnet.

The appeal of XuetangX is its open platform nature, which means that other universities can very easily add to the network. Its scalability should help entice China’s higher education to appeal to a broader range of the country’s population, including those you may not traditionally be able to enter higher education.

“The decisions of the Chinese consortium and the French Ministry of Higher Education is a testament to the open-source approach that edX and its consortium have taken,” O’Connell said. EdX currently serves almost 1.5 million students from around the world and consists of 29 institutions.

Even though Harvard is one of the founders of the open source platform — and proponents seem keen to cite the university — it had little to do with XuetangX.

“Really what’s happening is that XuetangX developed it themselves and took advantage of the open-source platform,” Rutter said. “Maybe there will be the possibility that Harvard will work with XuetangX, but there’s nothing definitive in the works.”

Institutions that have joined up to the XuetangX platform have a long history of providing a high-quality education to their students — and now a student could be deep in rural China and access that same level of education through the internet. Such access is particularly important in China because not everyone has an opportunity to travel to a Chinese city, gain admission to a university or complete a degree.

The first courses were launched on October 17th, andthough it is far too early to tell how successful they will be, there is a clear commitment to the project with both funding and support.

On the edX platform, courses are available from 29 institutions worldwide at no cost, but students will soon be allowed to earn certificates of completion for a nominal fee.

Last month, MITx, a division of MIT that offers courses on edX, announced that certificates would be offered to students who completed a prescribed syllabus of courses.