Two of America’s most prestigious universities are doing something that any other private university would consider a sign of clinical insanity. They are offering education, knowledge and enlightenment for free.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are putting their collegiate powers together to create an online portal that offers anyone with a working internet connection the chance to attend and participate in some of their classes. Both universities will put up $30 million to fund the program and a non-profit organization operated by both schools will oversee its implementation and maintenance.

The edX program will provide internet users free and unfettered access to class materials on a variety of subjects and fields of study starting with the next fall semester.

The edX courses will also come with laboratory assignments, as well as embedded quizzes and tests to offer the full online college experience. They will also offer students the opportunity to interact with teachers and the chance to receive “immediate feedback” and “student-ranked questions and answers.” They even come with “certificates of mastery” that students can frame and hang on their wall once they complete each course.

The students taking the online courses won’t be the only ones who gain some new knowledge and insights from the program. Both Harvard and MIT plan to monitor the activity and success of each course in order to learn how the students are learning and the most effective teaching methods and tools.

[The Washington Post]