By Carl Straumsheim
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will this fall package some of its online courses into more cohesive sequences, just as edX prepares to roll out certificates of completion using identity verification. Seen together, the two announcements may provide a glimpse at what the future holds for the massive open online course provider.
The “XSeries” sequences add a new layer of structure to MITx, the institution’s section of the edX platform. The first of seven courses in the Foundations of Computer Science XSeries will be offered this fall, with one or more new courses being rolled out each semester until the fall of 2015. The Supply Chain Management XSeries, consisting of three courses, will begin in the fall of 2014. The two sequences will target undergraduates and working professionals, respectively.
MIT officials deny that the XSeries sequences are a first step toward students one day being able to combine a set of sequences into something that may resemble a degree. A spokesman described Tuesday’s announcement as an early experiment on new ways to offer programs. Faculty members, while skeptical of how well upper-level courses would translate to MITx, say they are finding the platform useful for teaching basic concepts and competencies.
“Personally, I think it’s pretty obvious we’re headed into a new era of education,” said Christopher J. Terman, a senior lecturer in the department of electrical engineering and computer science. Terman will help create three modules on computation structures for the computer science sequence. “I would be surprised if in 10 years the lay of the land wasn’t really a lot different.”
Each XSeries sequence will cover the topics found in two to four face-to-face courses, which in one way qualifies them as the minors of the MOOC world. For example, Terman’s three modules on computation structures equal one traditional course. Terman said that he expects the modules to be staggered to better facilitate online discussions, and that the current schedule (showing one new model being introduced every semester beginning next fall) represents the time it takes to develop and roll out the courses
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/09/18/mit-announces-two-mooc-sequences-edx-strategy-begins-take-shape