http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-1 ... icate.html
The first class -- 6.002x: Circuits and Electronics -- will be free, though subsequent courses will come with a small fee. Through its new MITx initiative, non-MIT students will, for the first time, have their performance assessed and receive certificates if they show mastery in the subject, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school said in a statement.
There are many free online courses available, and more all the time, but assessment for a free course is fresh terrain. Lots of ifs and risks and how-are-they-going-to-handles but I think it's an awesome step into the future. A tiny taste of a life outside our flawed formal education system and I can't help but be really enthusiastic. I want more. Would it be amazing if you could educate yourself in almost anything online? For free? With certification? Cool. Do you think kids could handle the informal approach? Would it breed troglodytes or savants? How young is too young for an online course? Can the Internet abolish the anti-social con that plagues home-schooling, or is there no substitute for physical contact? I guess we'll start seeing some answers by March 5 when the MIT course begins.