U. of Texas System Is Latest to Sign Up With edX for Online Courses

The University of Texas system will join Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley to offer massive open online courses through edX, university officials announced on Monday.

The system’s Board of Regents voted unanimously on Monday morning to put $5-million into the nonprofit partnership, which was formed by Harvard and MIT in May to provide free online college courses, known as MOOC’s, on a global scale. The University of Texas system will offer at least four edX courses by next fall, beginning with general-education courses in the spring.

The addition of the University of Texas system, which includes nine university campuses and six health institutions, will expand edX considerably. Meanwhile, the for-profit online course provider Coursera continues to race ahead, striking deals with 33 universities so far.

Students on University of Texas campuses will one day be able to take the online courses for credit, though they might be charged tuition, said Francisco G. Cigarroa, the system’s chancellor, during a conference call with reporters on Monday. He said that edX courses would also be used in “blended learning” classes on his campuses.

The system’s health centers will be able to expand continuing-education and online-learning opportunities for doctors and “more effectively reach out to the world,” said David L. Callender, president of the University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston.

The system’s Institute for Transformational Learning will direct the approval of courses and work with edX to train faculty members to teach them. “Higher education is at a crossroads,” said Steve Mintz, the institute’s executive director. “We can provide education that will be active, visual, virtual, and, above all, stress interaction.”

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