Will MITx create a new academic currency?

(Warning: A second or two of explicit language in this clip.)
The nugget from this clip that I want to highlight comes at about 3:25.  The argument between Will and the grad school over the value of a degree.

I’ve read a couple of articles recently about MIT’s MITx initiative.  While this doesn’t directly relate to our class, I think there are some characteristics of open source educational resources that can be applied to the concepts we’ve covered in class so far like produsage and digital economies.

For example, as this recent article notes, MIT has been experimenting with crowd-sourced grading of computer programs where qualified web users grade student work.

Through the MITx anyone can take free online courses.  In addition, MITx courses will be offered on an open source learning platform.  What does this mean?  It means that course content can be shared with instructors from other institutions.

“…even if the courses are great, they have limited value without some kind of credential to back them up. It’s not enough to learn something—you have to be able to prove to other people that you’ve learned it.”

MIT has been offering open source educational material since 2001. So what’s the big deal now?  In addition to free content and pedagogy, MITx will also offer  – for a small fee – credentials for completed courses.

Will MITx trivialize the value of an Ivy League education?

 “If an Ivy League university starts giving degrees away for free, why would everyone clamor to be admitted to an Ivy League university?”

The argument against this statement is that while MITx will offer credentialing, it will not offer an MIT degree.  A degree would still require acceptance into MIT, completion of the required academic cirrculum, and of course, tuition fees.

While MITx won’t offer a degree, it could create a new form of academic currency.  If it proves successful, what kind of educational value will it create?

 “What happens when it enters circulation? Will other universities accept it as transfer credit, or employers as proof of skills? How will those credentials affect the fast-growing market for online credits and degrees, much of which is driven by the expensive for-profit sector?”

If MITx establishes success and its credentials are valued, how long will the courses remain free?  Will that small fee for student “credentialing” increase?

I suspect that could also be disruptor in the for-profit channels especially since their graduates’ success rates were recently called into question and legislation was passed limiting their recruiting practices.

Anyone else have thoughts on this? How do you see this as a potential disruptor/influencer in online education?


Bruns, Axel. “Produsage: A Working Definition.”  http://produsage.org/node/9

Carey, Kevin. “MIT Mints a Valuable New Form of Academic Currency.” http://chronicle.com/article/MIT-Mints-a-Valuable-New-Form/130410/?sid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

Porter, James E. “Rhetoric in (as) a Digital Economy.”


One thought on “Will MITx create a new academic currency?

  1. Pingback: Do we need those “stinking badges”? « Remarks

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