A recent article posted on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website details information about MIT’s initiative to provide official certification for completion of on-line content.
This certification will provide credibility for on-line learners through knowledge assessment to ensure mastery of the subject matter. Previously, the opencourseware project provided no such avenue for legitimacy. It should be noted that although MIT will be offering credentialing for select courses, such certification is not equivalent to an MIT degree or whether such course work will be accepted as transfer credits at other institutions of higher learning. MIT is planning on offering the credentials at a nominal fee, while the course work currently available will remain free. I could find no information about how the assessments would be performed or how the integrity of the credentialing process would be ensured.
The volume and quality of coursework currently available is really quite astounding. A quick perusal of the course catalogue revealed a class in financial accounting taught by one of the preeminent scholars in the field (SP Kothari of the Sloan School of Management). Over 2000 classes are available, many with audio/visual content, in such diverse fields as aeronautics, biology, finance, economics, etc.
The offering of such high quality on-line content from such a prestigious institution may fundamentally change the landscape of higher education.