We at GCP are keenly focused on the advances in online education, and they are coming fast and furiously. MIT and Harvard recently announced a new nonprofit partnership known as EdX which will offer free online courses from both universities. EdX, which is expected to offer its first five courses this fall, will be overseen by a nonprofit organization governed equally by the two universities, each of which has committed $30 million to the project.

M.I.T. and Harvard officials said they would use the new online platform not just to build a global community of online learners, but also to research teaching methods and technologies. In a Boston Globe article about this project found here, Alan Garber, Harvard’s provost who is leading this effort on Harvard’s behalf, said that the venture gives both schools a chance to “collect data that simply hasn’t existed. How much time do students spend with different elements? Do people who go back and repeat a video segment learn better, or worse?’’

Harvard and MIT aren’t the only elite colleges teaming up to offer courses online. This month, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced their partnership with a new commercial company, Coursera. Coursera now offers 40 courses online, taught by professors from these schools, in a variety of subjects areas, including “Humanities and Social Sciences”, “Mathematics and Statistics”, “Economics, Finance and Business”, and “Society, Networks and Information”.

The online class world is exploding. We should encourage our sons (and daughters) in high school and beyond to explore these learning opportunities, and we should check them out ourselves. Maybe you and your son can take a class together!