EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 7, 2013

High-schoolers at Harvard, MIT, via Internet

ANDOVER — While most high school students go into college unfamiliar with the on-campus lifestyle, the high school is piloting an effort that brings the experience to the students at home.

A group of 13 students at Andover High are enrolled in courses at edX, an online joint education venture between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and other colleges to offer select courses over the Internet for free.

By completing the courses, the students receive course credit equivalent to a semester’s worth of work, according to Nancy Duclos, assistant superintendent.

But the students involved receive much more than a credit towards graduation, Duclos said. When logged in, they have access to some of the brightest minds in the education world.

“When you talk about exposure to different ideas and points of view ... I just think about the different depths [needed] to enter into that college environment,” she said.

In edX, lectures and classroom lessons are streamed over the Internet. Through the site, they can be replayed, slowed down, paused and more. Additional resources attached to each course augment lesson and quiz content, and discussion boards allow students and faculty to collaborate, go over the lessons and dig deeper.

When asked what they thought about the venture, the students enrolled in edX courses said the quantity of work lines up with high school-level work, though the quality makes it more difficult and, ultimately, more enriching.

Because of that, many of them said they’re enrolled in a crash course in college life more than anything else.

“My class, it shows this huge lecture hall, kids walking in late,” John Nossiff, 16, said. “There’s a balcony for extra seating. It’s got to be a thousand people, so it gives you a sense of how classes go at big schools.”

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