With the addition of Princeton University to its list of partners, the nonprofit MOOC provider edX now counts more Ivy League partners than Coursera. Princeton University will expand its online learning opportunities allowing millions of learners across the globe to take free online classes delivered by Princeton faculty on the platform starting this fall.
The partnership begins with the course “Making Government Work in Hard Places,” taught by Jennifer Widner, a politics and international affairs professor, scheduled for launch October 21. Widner says edX has a clear, simple structure that can facilitate navigation, especially for non-English native learners:
“EdX’s clarity is a highlight and is important if not all users speak the same language,” she said.
Princeton was one of the first four partners of Coursera, a platform on which the university will continue offering courses. With the addition of Princeton to edX’s consortium, the platform counts six Ivy League partners compared to five for Coursera.
Jeff Himpele, the Director for Teaching Initiatives and Programs at Princeton, says the decision to join edX was a response to the needs of the Princeton faculty:
“Faculty continue to ask for an expanding set of online tools, different kinds of environments, as well as tools for learning analytics they can use to study student learning in open courses and in private campus courses.”
The University of Pennsylvania joined edX three months ago with the aim of offering three online courses through the platform. Representatives from Penn and Princeton each cited different reasons for joining edX.
According to Deirdre Woods, Executive Director of Penn’s open learning team, Penn found edX’s new online audience appealing for Penn’s faculty.
“Exposing our faculty to other learners [on edX] is great, and I think the primary reason why we entered into MOOCs in the first place,” Woods said.
On the other hand, edX CEO Anant Agarwal asserts that what makes edX attractive to universities is that it’s a non-profit platform:
“I would say that we are a non-profit, we have an open-source platform, and we’ve stayed true to our mission,” Agarwal said. “I think that as universities recognize that, the whole non-profit approach is appealing.”
According to the Daily Princetonian, the courses completed through edX won’t lead to Princeton credit or any other form of credential.
The second course offered by PrincetonX through edX is “The Art of Structural Engineering: Bridges” taught Maria Garlock, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The 9-week course starts January 2016.