On May 2, 2012 Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a new nonprofit partnership, known as edX, to offer free online courses from both universities.
"Harvard’s involvement follows M.I.T.’s announcement in December that it was starting an open online learning project, MITx. Its first course, Circuits and Electronics, began in March, enrolling about 120,000 students, some 10,000 of whom made it through the recent midterm exam. Those who complete the course will get a certificate of mastery and a grade, but no official credit. Similarly, edX courses will offer a certificate but not credit.
"But Harvard and M.I.T. have a rival — they are not the only elite universities planning to offer free massively open online courses, or MOOCs, as they are known. This month, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced their partnership with a new commercial company, Coursera, with $16 million in venture capital.
"Meanwhile, Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford professor who made headlines last fall when 160,000 students signed up for his Artificial Intelligence course, has attracted more than 200,000 students to the six courses offered at his new company, Udacity.
"The technology for online education, with video lesson segments, embedded quizzes, immediate feedback and student-paced learning, is evolving so quickly that those in the new ventures say the offerings are still experimental.
“ 'My guess is that what we end up doing five years from now will look very different from what we do now,' said Provost Alan M. Garber of Harvard, who will be in charge of the university’s involvement" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/education/harvard-and-mit-team-up-to-offer-free-online-courses.html?_r=1, accessed 05-04-2012).