Where can I take free online courses?
MIT is taking perhaps its biggest step yet to combine free online classes with its traditional on-campus instruction. The university announced Wednesday at its Solve conference that it will allow students to obtain one of its master’s degrees by doing half of the coursework online—from anywhere, for free, without any admissions tests—and then doing the other half in a single semester on campus.
Typically only about three dozen students are in the supply chain master’s program each year. But now anyone will be allowed to take the first semester of classes for free on edX, the online service that offers courses from MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and other schools. Then, if their online coursework is good enough and they pass an exam at the end of the semester (by going to a proctoring center near where they live), they can earn a credential that MIT is calling a “MicroMaster’s.” If they want to go on to the second semester and earn the full master’s in supply chain management, they can formally apply. Having been granted the MicroMaster’s, MIT says, will “significantly enhance” their chances of gaining acceptance. The program will increase in size to make room for students coming in this way.
The MIT campus.
Yossi Sheffi, who directs MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, said he hopes to get more of the “cream of the crop” of students from around the world now that the online classes will give administrators detailed data about each student’s aptitude.
“This approach basically inverts the traditional admission process. I believe that’s a very powerful concept, ” said MIT’s president, Rafael Reif. “Applicants do not have to hope that we guess right about them, because they have the chance to prove in advance that they can do the work.”
What happens if the students don’t get in to complete the master’s? There’s no guarantee that prospective employers will think much of a MicroMaster’s on its own. But MIT says that at least two other schools, the Zaragoza Logistics Center in Spain and the Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation, are considering giving course credit to people with the credential as MIT will do. Presumably other business schools could follow suit.
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