The New York Times reports about the new partnership between MIT and Harvard. Both universities plan to offer free online courses via the open-source platform edX.
“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.”
More about edX at MIT news.
At most public ioititutsnns now, it’s almost the norm for students to take at least one course on-line while in college. There is definitely not the same taboo against this as there can be with fully on-line degrees. There’s also a huge, huge difference between an on-line course offered by a well-known, campus-based college (like your state university) and one offered by a for-profit, distance-only college (like University of Phoenix). This is because on-line courses offered by regular colleges are usually taught by full-time faculty members and are required to meet the same standards as in-person, on-campus courses. So, the bottom line is, the two really aren’t comparable, and you shouldn’t fear the stigma.When it comes to transferring, this can be a little trickier. Many colleges, particularly highly-ranked private ones, will not grant transfer credit for on-line courses because they don’t offer them themselves. (This is also why many won’t offer transfer credit for summer courses.) So it will really depend on the college in question. Will a Wellesley or a Stanford not like a lot of on-line courses? Probably. Will a UMass or a Fordham care? Not really. So you really need to check in advance with the colleges you’re interested in transferring to, and then make your decision.Personally, I took a two on-line courses while attending community college, and even though they didn’t transfer (I went to a college that didn’t accept those credits; other colleges to which I was accepted did give me credit), I’m still glad I did it because they helped me earn my Associate’s, which I *did* need to transfer. In that sense, they really helped me get from one place to the other. So even if you end up being down a course or two in terms of credits, that might not be such a big deal. Just pick your courses wisely, keep in close contact with your transfer admissions counselors, and do well! Good luck.