Ashwith Rego, 24, an Electronics and Communications engineer from Mangalore, quit his job to prepare for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) to pursue an MTech. He enrolled with EdX, a free online education portal launched by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University early this year.
Thrilled that he could do a 6.002X (Circuits and Electronics) course by an MIT professor while sitting at home, Ashwith says, “The lectures consisted of short video snippets with exercise problems in between. Theory, experiments and the discussion forum all helped me understand and apply what I was taught.”
The interactive web-based learning portal, EdX, has been launched by the two elite universities with the aim of making high quality education available to anyone in the world with internet access. The courses are conducted by MIT or Harvard professors.
Lab experiments are followed by discussions in which students participate. Students are also given assignments, and once a course begins, it is accessible 24 hours a day.
In a telephonic conversation from Boston, Anant Agarwal, president of EdX and a professor of electronics at MIT, says, “Over 20,000 Indian students registered with the portal for the 6.002x course, which is the second-highest number after the US itself. The enrollment for this season is still on.”
The 6.002x was the first course to be launched, in September, and is taught by professor Agarwal himself. Agarwal hails from Mangalore and graduated from IIT-Madras. He has been living in the US for the past 30 years.
Following the course’s huge success, seven more courses were introduced. The University of California, Berkeley has also joined the collaboration. “Our goal is to continue to expand EdX’s course offerings and key university partners, while maintaining high quality standards,” says Agarwal, adding that they plan on joining hands with IITs in the near future.
Nations have been using international education as a diplomacy tool for a long time. This not only fetches them revenue, but also helps them widen their base among the youth in other countries and in the long run, helps them in business, trade and international relations.
Agarwal, however, denies any such motive. “EdX is not a government initiative. Universities are doing this to share knowledge with students across the globe. This has nothing to do with international politics.”