EdX: Free University Classes on the Internet



Liene, via Flickr

Where did you go to school? Would you go to school on the internet? Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at free education over the internet.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Amol Bhave is 17 years old. He is from Jabalpur, India. Bhave is very intelligent. And he has always wanted to attend a top university. However, Bhave knows that many, many people apply to attend the best universities. And universities only choose a few. Bhave also does not have a lot of money to pay for his education.

Voice 2 

So Bhave was excited when he heard about a new online organization. It is called edX. EdX provides free classes from some of the world’s best universities.  Anyone can take the classes. And students complete the classes on the Internet. So, Bhave decided to take an edX class from one of the world’s best schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT.

Voice 1 

Bhave finished the class and achieved very high test results. The leader of edX, Anant Agarwal, noticed Bhave’s great work. So, he wrote a letter to MIT for Bhave. This letter helped Bhave get into MIT. Bhave told The Crimson news organization,

Voice 3 

“Without edX, I could not have dreamed of going to college. EdX changed my life. EdX is going to change the world.”

Voice 2 

Today’s Spotlight is on edX. This not for profit organization hopes to change higher education forever! But not everyone agrees that edX is a good idea.

Voice 1 

Online education is not a new idea. There are many programs that use the Internet to teach - even other free programs.  You may have heard another Spotlight Program about an organization called Khan Academy. Khan Academy provides free, online video tutorials. These short films teach about many different subjects. Salman Khan started Khan Academy. And Khan was a student of Anant Agarwal at MIT. Like Khan, Agarwal had a desire to share knowledge globally using the Internet. But Agarwal wanted to do something different. He wanted to share real university classes. His idea was to provide the highest quality university classes to anyone, anywhere.

Voice 2 

To make his idea work, Agarwal asked two of the world’s best universities for help - Harvard and MIT. Both schools agreed to provide money to start the project. Together, they gave edX more than $60,000,000. This money helped edX create its website, build systems and provide classes. And in the spring of 2012, edX launched its first class - MIT‘s ‘Circuits and Electronics’.

Voice 1 

Since that time, edX has provided more and more classes each term. It now provides over 60 classes from 28 universities. And these universities are from 13 countries around the world - including South Korea, India, China, the United States, Germany, Japan and more.

Voice 2

EdX’s online courses are aimed at a very large group of people. They are completed on the internet and open to anyone. For these reasons, they are called Massive Online Open Courses or MOOCs. Other organizations also provide university level MOOCs. But edX is different because it provides MOOCs for free! And for Agarwal, this is very important. His goal is to reach and teach 1 billion students through edX. EdX is working toward this goal. In just over 2 years, edX has reached 1 million students.

Voice 1 

Many people think Agarwal’s idea is good. That is what Amol Bhave, from the beginning of this program thinks. He told The Crimson,

Voice 3 

“Having classes open and free is an important part of online learning. This gives everyone a chance to get a high quality education. If I had to pay, I might not have taken the edX class.”

Voice 2

But not everyone agrees that providing university classes online for free is such a good idea. Many people question whether MOOCs can provide quality learning. Most edX students are not able to talk directly to teachers. They can ask questions online. But, they receive answers from other students or teacher assistants, who have less training than university teachers.

Voice 1 

Education experts argue that MOOC’s work for some students, but they do not serve all students well. Some students can learn just by hearing. But other students need to ask questions and discuss ideas to learn. And some students learn by doing - by completing a project or experiment. Sylvia Martinez is an education technology expert. She has serious concerns about MOOCs. She told Boston Magazine,

Voice 4 

“People learn through experience.  They learn by doing research and the kind of experiments they do at MIT. You would not want to go to a doctor who just watched a lot of videos about heart operations.”

Voice 2 

EdX has also had other problems. Their classes have very low completion rates. In fact, less than 10% of students who start an edX class finish it. That means most edX students never receive a certificate of completion.

Voice 1 

EdX has also struggled to reach a wide group of students. Agarwal’s goal is to serve any student anywhere. But this is not yet happening. At this time, 1 of every 3 edX students is from the United States. And the majority of edX students already have a university education. So, is edX really serving the people Agarwal hopes to serve?

Voice 2 

Many people also question what a certificate of completion is worth. Students who finish edX courses receive paper certificates, but not credit toward a university degree. And worse yet, many people believe edX will not be able to continue providing these certificates for free. EdX is still supported by Harvard and MIT. But even Agarwal says that students may have to pay for certificates in the future.

Voice 1

Even though edX is struggling in some ways, many people argue that it is a positive program. The organization is only 2 years old and it has already reached many students.

Voice 2 

Ifeoma Aya is a 27-year-old woman. She is from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Aya took edX’s Global Poverty class. She believes edX has helped her gain knowledge. This knowledge will help her when she attends university. It will also help her later when she is working. Aya told edX,

Voice 5 

“I can proudly tell people I have taken a class from one of the world’s best universities. EdX is proving that quality education has no walls.”

Voice 1 

What do you think? Is edX changing education for better or for worse? E-mail us your thoughts at radio@radioenglish.net.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the Internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “EdX: Free University Classes on the Internet.”

Voice 1 

Leave a comment on the script page of this program to tell us your opinion.  We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

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Question:

Where did you go to school? Would you go to school on the internet?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on September 23, 2013

Online education on the Internet is certainly an excellent idea, especially providing the highest quality university classes for free to anyone, anywhere. EdX is helping students to gain the knowledge that they will be able to use attending university and later right in their own job. Although the students may have to pay for certificates in the future, the organization EdX really has a positive, useful program serving many students in different countries around the world. I think EdX is changing education for better.
Greetings

natasoul's avatar
natasoul
said on October 13, 2014

Hello spotlght it is very interesting article.In my opinian,online education is helping a lot, especially for this people, who do not have enough money to pay for their study.Edx is a great idea and proving that quality education has no walls. Thanks a lot ,bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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thuyanle
said on October 16, 2014

I have attendd online english program. I think it is very useful, saving cost and time. I have flexible schedule to learning. I hope in the future , having more and more online learning program.

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Mss Flamboyant
said on October 17, 2014

well, to me, Edx is the best way for poor people open knowledge. I love this.

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chocolate
said on October 18, 2014

I have just injoy Edx and Khan. they are very useful.

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oleksandrk
said on November 04, 2014

I think edX and initiative like this are very important in modern world. I would like to learn some courses, but I can find what I need in Internet.)

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Wilson Vega
said on January 26, 2018

Gracias Spotlight

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Honneur
said on February 10, 2019

I went to college at UFMG for graduation and UFC for MsC. I think that actions like MOOCs are wonderful and will provide high-level education for millions and millions of people around the world, and the best, free and no investment in buildings, facilities and skilled workers. Online education, above all, provides a field to prove that the student is “the center of knowledge” because he must establish when, where and how to study his lessons ... So, bad teachers, traffic jams and fatigue do not explain lack of learning. The Spotlightradioenglis program is a complete proof of the effectiveness of the EAD.
Thank you very much

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LaoQuang212
said on February 12, 2019

Many thank Spotlight to give our helpful information & resources to learnd and lift ourselves.