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U Texas System Joins EdX

The University of Texas (UT) System has joined edX, an online learning initiative launched in May by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Not-for-profit edX offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) for free to students anywhere in the world. Aside from offering free courses, edX is designed to allow participating institutions "to research how students learn and how technology can transform learning--both on-campus and worldwide," according to information released by the initiative.

Courses offered through edX include resources such as interactive labs, virtual reality environments, online tutors and tutorials, collaborative projects, online forums, and the opportunity to network with instructors and other students.

"We are excited that the University of Texas System is joining edX's efforts to revolutionize learning," said Anant Agarwal, president of edX, in a news release about the partnership. "The institutions within The University of Texas System bring a wide range of expertise to the edX mission, and with them edX is now positioned to continue to increase our offering of high-quality, online courses."

The move makes the UT System the second institution to join edX since its launch, following the University of California, Berkeley, which joined in July. The UT System will offer at least four courses through the platform within the next year.

Unlike the other schools, which only offer certificates of completion through edX, the UT System will allow students to earn credits toward a degree through the platform.

"Our goal through our partnership with edX is to better meet the learning needs of a wide range of students, raise graduation rates, and cut the cost of higher education, all while maintaining our commitment to education of the highest quality," said Gene Powell, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents.

In service to that goal, the organization will redesign entry-level and general education courses to provide options customized to student needs. "For example, the UT System plans to offer courses that use a combination of technology and face-to-face interaction, courses that allow students to manage their own time by accelerating through sections they have already mastered or spending more time on areas they find challenging, and fully online courses so students are not limited by their location," according to information released by the UT System.

Aside from a large student body spread across nine universities and six health institutions, the UT System will bring "special expertise in analytics--assessing student learning, online course design, and creating interactive learning environments" to the project, according to information released by the schools.

"Today's announcement is another important step toward our shared objectives of expanding access to high quality educational content while enhancing teaching and learning online and in the classroom," Harvard President Drew Faust said in a news release. "The addition of The University of Texas System to the edX platform will allow us to deepen our understanding of learning, develop new approaches to teaching that build on that knowledge, and strengthen both the on-campus and online learning experience."

Enrolling more than 215,000 students at 15 institutions, the UT System includes The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas at Brownsville, The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Texas at El Paso, The University of Texas-Pan American, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, The University of Texas at San Antonio, The University of Texas at Tyler, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.

More information about edX is available at edx.org.

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