UC Berkeley announced Tuesday that it is joining the new online education website founded by Harvard and MIT that offers free, not-for-credit courses to a worldwide audience. The addition of UC Berkeley will give edX its first expansion into a prestigious public university and a foothold on the West Coast away from its Cambridge, Mass., base, officials said.
UC Berkeley will offer two courses, one in software engineering and the other in artificial intelligence, on the edX platform in the fall. Those classes will closely follow the on-campus versions, although without the personal contact with professors and the in-depth research projects that UC students usually do, professors said. Five other courses will be offered by Harvard University and MIT in such topics as solid state chemistry and computer science.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau said the not-for-profit, non-commercial edX platform, which has an initial $60 million in funding from Harvard and MIT plus other donations, matches his school's "mission and values."
Birgeneau said he did not think joining edX would undercut the University of California system's own early steps into online education because those concentrate on for-credit courses for tuition-paying UC students, not the worldwide audience that edX seeks. The UC campus, which has been feeling the strains of the state budget woes, is not contributing any money to edX but instead will allow it to use some open source technology that UC Berkeley professors have developed and already use for parts of their courses, officials said.