The MITx Revolution
On the first day of Christmas MIT gave to me… oh, whatever. MIT did give us all something though. The school recently announced MITx, which will start offering free online courses, and for a fee a certificate of completion.
There’s a lot of action in the online/higher-ed space at the moment with many major universities putting up courses for free, including MIT. These are fantastic offerings and while the quality varies—with Stanford’s offerings being the best of the bunch—none offer any sort of validation that you’ve learned something from these fine institutions. For that you need to attend the university and earn a degree.
MITx is changing that paradigm. While they don’t plan on offering a full degree through the program, you will be able to get some sort of certificate of completion for the courses you take. Would an HR manager consider an MITx certificate equal, alongside candidate with a degree or a professional certification? My bet is that they will, and if I’m correct, then this program has the potential to bring a revolution to the higher education business.
For a 20-something without a formal degree or even a 20 year IT degree-less veteran such as myself looking to boost their career this could be a huge opportunity. Currently there are three choices for these people:
1. Go back to school and get an applicable degree. This is time consuming and very expensive.
2. Get a professional certification in your field of interest. This is a good option and not too expensive but does commit you to a certain path in order to maintain the credentials.
3. Do nothing, just keep working.
Now MITx comes in and provides a forth option that nicely sits between options one and two above. Earn a certification to demonstrate a certain amount of knowledge in a field without the commitment to continuing education units, membership in an organization you might not be that interested in joining or the paying for the full degree.
Time will tell how my predictions pan out, but I find the concept of an affordable mini-degree very appealing on many levels.