EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 7, 2013

High-schoolers at Harvard, MIT, via Internet


“I didn’t know if I’d want big or small class sizes, but they showed me through these lectures that [students] are still able to participate, even in these huge lecture halls,” 17-year-old Mimi Olney added.

Because the course work is college-level material, there is also a level of preparedness students enrolled in edX benefit from.

“You really have to be self-motivated to do the work, and that’s a big thing you need to do in college,” Grace Anne Castro, 16, said.

“It prepares you for the actual college classes, which is nice because you have an expectation of what your classes can be like once you get into college,” 16-year-old Jordan Janeiro said.

As it stands, there isn’t a way that the system can be tied to a student’s grade point average since completing a course only offers a certificate, Duclos said. The only tangible reward they get for the work is the course credit.

But Nikhil Chopra, 16, said if given a choice, he would keep it that way.

“It’s more enrichment for your mind and understanding rather than an academic boost. A program like this is really important for delving into what you’re going to be learning in college,” he said. “If you’re letting it just be something you can learn from and enrich yourself with, it’s more effective than an academic goal.”

Bringing the project to Andover was orchestrated by School Committee member David Birnbach, who said he has connections both at MIT and within edX.

The partnership between the organization and the school swings both ways, he said. While students at the high school benefit from college-level programming, edX is also able to study how well high school-aged minds engage, respond to and complete programming at a higher level.

“The online learning experience is getting more pervasive and will be part of the student’s learning going forward,” he said.

If the pilot is successful, Birnbach said he can see “the number of students at Andover High taking edX courses increasing, and I imagine more of our students being able to get exposure to the online experience moving forward.”

For more information or to enroll in a course, visit www.edx.org.

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