Leading Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) provider edX, created by Harvard and MIT and operating on a fee-free basis, will begin to charge for professional education courses starting next year. So far, five courses have been announced and the fees range from $49 to $1,249.
Until now, the only charge involved was for a verified certificate of completion, and even that was only in some courses.
Anant Agarwal, edX CEO, says that edX is committed to continue offering free courses online. However, he adds, there will be an expansion of fee-paying professional education and subjects which include leadership, IT, business, education, engineering, energy, medicine and big data. Agarwal says that the edX platform will enable its member organizations to offer professional courses much less expensively than through traditional methods and will reach a broader and larger base of learners.
What edX offers its learners is flexible scheduling and timing, courses that will run for only a few weeks or even days. The five professional education courses so far are in cyber-security, energy, sustainability, healthcare, innovation, and laboratory safety.
In the past two years, Ankit Khandelwal, from Kota, Rajasthan, has worked on his international management project. He did not attend a regular business school; instead he used MOOCs and OpenCourseWare (OCW) from schools like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, through the platforms of Coursera and edX.
Since its beginning in May 2012, France, China, and Japan have created their national infrastructures using edX. Now, India is signing a Joint Declaration of Intent between the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the US Department of State for cooperation in the field of education through the Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM), a program of online education, according to M. Saraswathy and Kalpana Pathak reporting for BusinessStandard. It will offer post-graduate academic programs offered by open edX. It will also offer 27 high school courses for students across the globe.
EdX announced last week that it will launch new courses which “will be offered in a convenient manner, tailored to busy schedules, and will reduce costly travel time and expenses for both.” These education courses will begin in 2015 and will be offered by Rice University, MIT, and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
“We already have MOOC courses at the college level,” Agarwal said in an interview. “Now with professional ed, we are capping it with courses for continuous learners and executives that want to learn about new technologies and features and applications and so on that are coming out and they can apply to their businesses.”
MIT’s course is “Engaging with Innovation Ecosystems: The Corporate Perspective” and will cost $1,248 per student. Rice’s “Basics of Energy Sustainability” will cost $495 per student. These courses will be aimed at employers and employees in specific industries.
Along with this new offering, edX will make available a “white label” service, consisting of an open platform that an institution can customize and brand on its own.
Convincing executives to try MOOCs might be a bit more difficult. Harvard Business School had almost 10,000 participants in its open-enrollment and custom executive programs bringing in $146 million in executive-education profit. Executives are looking for instruction from top-notch professors, but also for networking opportunities and joining the club of an elite group of leaders.