The University Network

As Campuses Close, edX Expands Free Access to Online Courses

As universities around the world move classes online due to the spread of COVID-19, edX, a popular platform for massive open online courses (MOOCs), has announced a new initiative to assist in the transition to online courses.

The initiative, dubbed the Remote Access Program, will allow students from participating universities to freely access courses offered by the university they attend as well as those offered by any other institutions participating in the program. The aim is to allow students to access educational resources while their universities are closed.

The coronavirus outbreak has created a host of challenges for colleges and universities. The nature of college life — living in close quarters in residence halls, attending lectures with hundreds of students and socializing constantly — makes the containment of disease, viruses, and infection on campus uniquely difficult. 

As a result, many universities have instructed students to simply stay away from campus in an attempt to contain the highly infectious coronavirus. Over 100 colleges and universities have already moved all courses online, while some have even closed residence halls and sent students home for the foreseeable future. 

Of course, moving all courses online presents logistical issues as universities attempt to shift hundreds of courses to digital platforms. Many universities simply do not have the digital infrastructure to move all courses online, particularly on such short notice.

By expanding free access to online courses for participating institutions, the Remote Access Program aims to help universities facilitate the transition to fully online courses.

“Our goal is simple: we want to help our university partners best support their students during this tough time,” edX CEO Anant Agarwal wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative. “We believe that by sharing access to content across a global group of universities, we can unite like-minded students and instructors to learn as a digital community.”

edX is host to over 2,400 courses offered by more than 100 universities around the world. edX has yet to announce how many institutions are participating in the Remote Access Program or specify which universities have opted in.