More and more universities throughout the world are joining open education programmes, thus signifying a global technological revolution in online studies. The study platforms of such universities as Stanford, Harvard, the University of California at Berkley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others, already embrace a multi-million audience of students, proposing unrestricted and cost-free access to learning resources of the highest quality.
The current stage of the development of education is distinguished by global technological improvements in the sphere of education technology, related to the development and dissemination of online study platforms, providing unlimited access to the best «Massive Open Online Courses», or MOOCs. Well-known universities such as Stanford University joined specialized Coursera Internet portal in 2011.
Now Coursera offers more than 300 study courses in a wide range of disciplines (humanitarian and social sciences, medicine, biology, mathematics, business, computer sciences and many others) and captures an audience of more than one million throughout the world. In the field of socio-economic sciences, the following study courses are very popular: «Introduction to Finance» (University of Michigan), «An Introduction to Operations Management» (University of Pennsylvania), «Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship» (Duke University), «Introduction to Computational Finance and Financial Econometrics» (University of Washington), «Principles of Economics for Scientists» (California Institute of Technology), «Microeconomics Principles» (University of Illinois), «Games Theory» (University of Illinois), «Statistics One» (Princeton University) and many others.
The courses are a series of previously recorded video lectures, read by well-known university professors (the video materials are generally given in parts on a weekly basis, based on the rate at which the material is learned), interactive exercises and tasks, which are subject to evaluation and supplemented by Internet forums, where students communicate and exchange ideas. The cost-free certification of listeners is provided for, based on the results of the successful learning of material within the framework of certain selected disciplines – the so-called Certificate of Completion/Accomplishment.
Another on-line platform of Stanford University – Udacity, which was also established in 2011, offers a wide range of courses, which generally pertain to computer studies and programming. World-renowned university professors are involved in this programme. It’s worth noting that 160,000 people from more than 190 countries signed pp for the first course, which was presented on the portal — «Introduction to Artificial Intelligence». A special multi-level system of certification and evaluation has been developed for both paying and non-paying students who successfully complete the studies. More than 100,000 students and instructors are registered on Udacity at the present time.
In May 2012, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the establishment of a new venture in the sphere of online studies – EdX, in which joint-investments totaled USD 60 million. In time, another renowned university joined this project – the University of California at Berkley. The partner universities, which are part of this consortium, officially have a common brand «X-Universities».
Thus, the Massachusetts subdivision of the platform (MITx) offers studies in chemistry, electronic networks, computer sciences and programming. The Harvard subdivision (HarvardX) specializes in computer sciences and clinical medical research. The California participant in the consortium (BerkeleyX) ensures the functioning of courses in IT and artificial intelligence. The project anticipates the direct transmission of lecture material in the Internet for all persons, who have previously registered for the courses, as well as the free download of text and video materials. On the successful completion of the course based on exam results students, that were first enrolled in autumn 2012, will receive Certificates of mastery.