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Everything you wanted to know about MITx on its 10th anniversary

MITx Director Dana Doyle answers the most pressing and commonly asked questions from MITx learners

Dana Doyle, W. Eric L. Grimson, Abigael Bamgboye, Joey Gu, and Shira Fruchtman at MITx’s virtual 10th anniversary celebration on Zoom. Text says “Ten Years of Learning” over a photo of MIT campus.
Images from MITx’s virtual 10th anniversary celebration on Jan. 11, 2022, featuring (from top left): Dana Doyle, Director, MITx Program; W. Eric L. Grimson, Chancellor for Academic Advancement; Abigael Bamgboye, Social Venture Enthusiast, MITx MicroMasters Credential Holder; Joey Gu, MIT Lecturer and MITx Digital Learning Scientist; and Shira Fruchtman, Assistant Manager of Educational Technology, Lead Learning Designer, MITx.

When MIT first announced the idea of MITx in 2011, the landscape of online learning as we know it now was still taking shape. The experience of taking a course online, along with many of the digital tools and technology powering today’s courses, have developed considerably in the decade since MITx made its debut.

At the time, MIT’s vision was that MITx would both benefit the educational experience of on-campus students and “eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.” Ten years and over 12 million course enrollments later, MITx has created more than 180 free online courses designed and taught by MIT faculty, and boasts a network of online learners representing 200 countries and nearly every age group.

To mark the occasion and usher in the next decade of online learning, MITx hosted a live panel discussion about how teaching and learning with MITx courses has evolved from the early days to now, and what’s next for MITx [watch the full event recording on our YouTube channel]. MITx learners were invited to share their questions for the panel, and true to form, they delivered with hundreds of curious and insightful queries about all things MITx! Below, MITx Director Dana Doyle answers the most pressing and commonly asked questions from MITx learners on our 10th anniversary:

The spirit of MITx

What motivated MIT to share online courses through MITx with the world?
In 2010 MIT was experimenting with creative online learning tools and could see that they were going to evolve. MITx was created as a program to support MIT faculty to not only leverage online learning on campus, but to freely share that content with the world in a full course experience, fitting into MIT’s mission to advance knowledge and be of service to the world in the 21st century. The intention was also to research and share findings about online learning practices, which we do today through the MITx Digital Learning Lab, a dedicated group of learning scientists and content experts who help design MITx courses and innovate with digital learning to enhance MIT’s teaching, both on campus and online.

Where can we find more about the learning science and pedagogy used in MITx courses?
Faculty, course teams and the MITx Digital Learning Lab are eager to share more about what goes into making the digital learning experience as engaging as possible, and what we’ve learned about online learning through MITx. You can check out some of the reports and research, teaching videos and digital innovations from MITx and MIT faculty on our website and YouTube channel.

MicroMasters, online degrees & course credits

Will MITx consider offering college credit for online courses or an online degree program?
Currently our MITx MicroMasters Programs act as a pathway to on-campus credit. Regardless of educational background, learners who pass an integrated set of MITx graduate-level online courses and proctored exams can earn a MicroMasters program credential from MITx, and can then apply for an accelerated, on-campus, advanced degree program at MIT or a growing list of other universities around the world.

What’s next for the MITx MicroMasters programs?
MITx is currently exploring new potential MicroMasters programs with different departments at MIT–stay tuned for future developments! In the meantime, we will continue to offer our five existing MicroMasters programs in Supply Chain Management; Statistics and Data Science; Principles of Manufacturing; Data, Economics, and Development Policy; and Finance.

Online learning equity & accessibility

How does MITx support learners with disabilities? Is there a way for learners to share feedback on how to make MITx courses more accessible to different types of learners?
MITx welcomes all learners to take advantage of our courses, including learners with disabilities. MITx courses are designed following accessibility standards and Universal Design for Learning principles to include curriculum features that facilitate access. MITx learners enrolled in a course can share accessibility improvement suggestions or connect with us directly and individually through our accommodation process. Many suggestions are adopted for future courses, thereby improving the accessibility of our portfolio.

Will MITx continue to offer a free audit track for its courses?
Yes! MITx plans to continue making our courses freely available for learners to explore and learn at their own pace. With MITx courses now available on edX, the MIT Open Learning Library, and the newer MITx Online platform, our goal is to make learning with MITx as flexible and rewarding as possible.

How can learners without internet access learn with MIT’s online learning resources?
MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), which publishes course content and resources from many of the on-campus counterparts of MITx courses, provides free offline copies of the OCW site for educational organizations with limited or no internet access through their Mirror Site Program. In the coming months OCW will also launch an upgraded mobile-friendly platform that will allow individual users to download course content for offline use to help increase access and flexibility for bandwidth-constrained users. OCW, MITx, and MIT Open Learning work closely to create new ways for learners to find, use, and make the most of all of our resources.

How can we make the best of education available to everyone?
Sharing high-quality learning opportunities with anyone who wants to learn is the driving mission behind MITx and our sister program MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW). However MITx and OCW are just two of MIT’s many initiatives designed to open education to as many people globally as possible. Just within MIT Open Learning, (which houses both MITx and OCW), the work of making education accessible to anyone could include a course from MITx for individual learners, a government or school working with J-WEL to co-design a local STEAM curriculum, or a company working with MIT xPRO to cultivate specific skills for their employees. Because educational needs can vary so greatly, it is important to understand that one size does not fit all.

Your support of MITx can help us continue creating and producing MIT-quality courses offered for free to online learners worldwide. If you’re able, consider a gift to MITx today.

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