Next month, Caltech will join 28 other prestigious colleges and universities in offering courses through an Internet education platform launched in 2012 by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In addition to video lectures, the online initiative edX will allows students to customize when they want to take quizzes and use learning resources, while faculty will be able to embed textbook chapters, discussion boards and diagrams into the platform’s layout for classes.
Called Massive Open Online Courses, the classes will begin in October at Caltech and be offered through the edX platform xConsortium.
The edX classes will join three other classes at Caltech offered through Coursera, another online learning platform. The data from edX and Coursera could provide information about how students best learn materials, especially in science.
“Caltech occupies this advanced, really rigorous scientific education space, and in general our interest in these online courses is to maintain that rigor and quality,” said Cassandra Horii, teaching and learning programs director at Caltech.
“So, with these learning data, we have some potential contributions to make to the general understanding of learning in this niche that we occupy.”
Coursera and edX courses are offered at no cost to students.
Coursera is a for-profit organization that partners with many institutions and state university systems, and edX is a nonprofit that plans to only partner with a small number of institutions, according to a Caltech news release.
“Coursera and edX have some foundational differences which are of interest to the faculty,” Horii said.
In 2012, Yaser Abu-Mostafa, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Caltech, developed a Massive Open Online Course on machine learning called Learning from Data, which is similar to edX and Coursera. Abu-Mostafa offered the class in April 2012 on YouTube and iTunes U.
The Massive Open Online Courses at Caltech will continue to provide a high-learning environment that is both rigorous and accessible, according to the news release.
“No dumbing down of courses for popular consumption,”Abu-Mostafa said. “No talking over people’s heads, either.”