The State Capitol of Texas at DuskThe University of Texas has joined a growing roster of universities that offer courses online. The state education system is now part of edX, an Internet-based platform that facilitates online education.

The University of Texas has announced plans to join the fray of universities that offer Internet-based education. It will soon offer courses from its 15 educational institutions (nine academic universities and six health institutions) to students who prefer to study online. This initiative is expected to bring college education to more students especially those who don’t have enough financial resources to attend tertiary school.

The state higher education system will offer its programs through edX, an online platform that provides ‘massive open online courses’ or MOOCs. It will infuse up to $5 million into the project. The university is the latest educational system that joined the platform, following the University of California at Berkeley, which signed up with edX in July 2012.

The learning platform

edX is a $60 million project jointly launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in fall 2012. It was developed to facilitate Web-based college classes for free. The non-profit platform aims to cater to not just US-based learners but also to other college students worldwide.

Under the initiative, an open-source software will be developed and distributed to other educational institutions that want to take part in the project. It would also enable other universities to offer their own courses through a designated edX Website. The software will facilitate interactive learning experience beyond typical lecture videos. It can also be used for distance education and research learning.

Rival project

Meanwhile, a similar platform was established in August 2012. Coursera was founded by two computer science professors at Stanford University. Unlike edX, it was funded by another organization, the Silicon Valley venture capital. Another striking difference is the fact that it is a for-profit project, although some college courses are offered for free.

Coursera was launched by the University of Michigan, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton. During its launch, 12 additional partners were announced. After a few months, 17 more educational institutions joined its roster, bringing the total of its university partners to 33.
Online education

Online education is getting more popular. According to a research by the EducationDynamics, up to 10% of college graduates in 2012 earned their degrees through the Internet. Many professionals are taking online courses to bolster their job credentials and increase their chances for career advancement. Numerous employers now prefer to subject their employees to Web-based training.

MOOCs provide opportunities for learning facilitated by world-class instructors without or with much less cost. However, only certificates are awarded after completion of programs. College degrees or academic credits are not yet awarded through such projects.

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