EdX, the online learning collaboration between Harvard and MIT, plans to start offering courses to high school students.
The company unveiled its first offering for high schoolers yesterday: 26 courses designed by 14 institutions, including MIT, Georgetown, and Boston University. Currently, 22 of the courses are available and the rest will be rolled out in the next few months.
The courses are available worldwide and cover a wide range of topics including computer science, calculus, geometry, English, physics, history, and psychology.
Upon completion of a course, a verified certificate will be available for a small fee.
Prior to this endeavor, edX has only created courses geared for higher education. The company will be the first to create an organized set of MOOCs geared toward high school students, although other online courses do exist.
Anant Agarwal, chief executive of edX, said the company is hoping the courses will fill a "readiness gap" that leaves many students unprepared for college. The courses will be available worldwide, allowing access to students outside the US who may not previously have had the ability to view such material.
"When students are not prepared, and if they have to take remedial courses, they're highly likely to not succeed," Agarwal said by phone Tuesday.
Almost 150,000 of the company's 3 million users are high school age. According to a 2013 survey, almost 90% of those users would like to see more entry-level college courses.
"It really goes back to our access mission," he said. "If you have very advanced courses in quantum mechanics, students would like to take a course in algebra or calculus so they can take the more basic courses to build the background needed to take the more advanced courses."
One new course will offer students a glimpse into the college application process, hoping to "demystify" the steps involved, including admission requirements, how to apply for financial aid, and choosing a major.
Others are specially geared for students taking Advanced Placement exams.
Students can sign up to take the exam on their own for a small fee, earning college credit depending on their score.
The new offerings could help adults who wish to refresh their skills. Teachers could also put them to use to supplement classroom technology.
High schools could also independently decide to offer course credit for completed online offerings through the edX program. In the 2012-13 school year, Andover High School of Massachusetts joined with edX to run a pilot program that would give a small selection of students credit for passing online courses.