Many people may have heard about edX like online learning platforms and wish to enroll in one of their courses.
But how are edX courses graded, and how can a student show that they have successfully completed an online course?
We look at how edX courses work, who uses them, how the grading system works and do edX courses give grades. We’ll also look at whether an edX certificate is the same as college credit and what the Verified Track option is.
How edX Courses Work
edX courses are offered as MOOCs, which stand for massive open online courses. This means that anyone can enroll for one of these courses, take the lessons and get a pass or fail grade at the end of the course, and it’s all free.
Unlike for-profit ventures such as Coursera and Udacity, edX was begun as a nonprofit entity.
This idea came from edX president Anant Agarwal who wished to democratize education.
He planned to do this by giving access to some high-quality courses to those who could not afford to pay for them via the traditional route.
The result was a partnership between MIT and Harvard University in 2012 that created this nonprofit organization. It offered around 200 courses free online from more than 40 partner universities in several different areas.
This meant that classes in computer science courses, business management, science engineering, social sciences, humanities as well as statistics and data analysis could be taken for free, online from anywhere in the world.
Being able to take a class taught by a Harvard or MIT professor was highly appealing and in just two years over 2.5 million people had enrolled students in edX courses.
They came from all backgrounds, cultures, and ages, just as edX president Anant Agarwal had hoped.
Who Uses edX Online Learning?
The courses on edX are accessible to anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world. There is no admission fee, test, or condition for those who wish to complete any of the self-paced online courses.
edX uses a mixture of videos, quizzes, discussions, and short essays to impart information and instruct the student. Some professional education courses have definitive start and end dates, others have no specific time frames.
When choosing a few edX courses you can search by topic or look at the list of free online courses available on the homepage of the website.
By clicking on the title of the course you will see an overview of it including an introductory video as well as information about how to take the course.
A self-paced course on edX is free to audit, however, some let you purchase a Verified Certificate of Achievement for a fee of between $50 and $90.
These are not college credits but instead, proof that you have taken and passed the course and can be used on a resume.
Registering for one of these free courses means students have to create an account. They can then access a demo video which is a 30-minute introduction to the course tools, interactive elements, videos, social media integration, and grading.
How Does The Grading Work?
All of the course content is on a tab called courseware and most courses are structured by week.
Students click on the lesson for the week and work their way through the content. Homework is typically set reading or problem-solving exercises.
When all the week’s coursework and homework are complete students move on to the next week’s content. For every question that is answered by the student a grade is assigned.
All of the grades are carried out automatically by software which is called Open Response Assessment. This software uses algorithms and rubrics to calculate the grades of each piece of work completed by the student.
Learners can monitor their performance through the Progress page tab. On this page, a line indicating the weighted grade against the grade needed to pass the course is displayed in green.
There is also a grade summary table on the page that shows course progress.
On this table, there is a column for the homework assignments type which includes the Weekly Check-In, Graded Assignment Section Questions, Midterm Exam, and Final Exam.
The second column is the Weight of each of these grades, the third column is the actual achieved final grade.
Finally, the last column shows the Weighted Grade. This last column is then totaled and on a line underneath the Grade Summary table is the current weighted grade summary.
This consists of all the elements taken in the course up to that point.
In order to pass the course, a student must meet or exceed the Passing Grade indicated in the Grades bar on the Progress tab.
Is An edX Certificate The Same As College Credit?
An edX certificate is not the same as college credit and is only proof that a learner has taken and passed the course.
It is useful for putting on a resume when learning a new skill that can benefit future career progression.
edX did test the idea of partnering with universities to create blended learning. This is where online content such as homework and videos are combined with in-class work such as discussion forums to enhance the learning process.
A pilot program with San Jose State University blended the engineering professional certificate programs from edX created by MIT with the university’s on-campus engineering class. The pass rate from the course increased from 55% to 91%.
San Jose State University was not charged for the use of the pilot class. An idea to charge universities a group rate to use edX courses for credit classes would allow edX to operate a similar system to Coursera.
That provider has partnered with universities that pay between $15 and $25 per learner who sign up for a credited edX course.
The Verified Track
For learners who want to earn a certificate to prove their successful completion of a course, choosing the Verified Track is the best way to do this.
The benefits of using the Verified Track are having a valid certificate to add to a resume and proof of a new qualification or skill.
The Verified Track includes all the same elements as the free audit version of the course.
However, it gives access to all the graded assignments and exams that formed part of the course and allows students enrolled to view the course material even after it has been archived.
The certificate can easily be shared with a resume or posted directly to a LinkedIn profile.
To enroll on the Verified Track learners go through the course introduction page and click on the Enroll button.
An active course where you can upgrade to the Verified Track gives the option to Upgrade Now or Continue.
By clicking on the Upgrade Now button learners will be directed to the payment page where they can enter their credit card information or use PayPal to pay.
The amount due for the certificate is in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Fees are charged in US dollars.
The grading of edX courses is done on an ongoing basis while the student is actively pursuing the course. It is a pass or fail grade and no actual or numerical grade is given.