Wellesley, a prestigious women’s college, on Tuesday joined a nonprofit venture known as edX that offers free online higher education to the world.
The announcement was the latest development in the fast-unfolding movement to provide massive open online courses, or MOOCs.
Led by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX launched in May. The University of California, Berkeley joined in July, and the University of Texas system joined in October.
Wellesley will offer four courses on the MOOC platform starting in fall 2013.
“This is a grand experiment, and what we learn will benefit Wellesley students as well as students all over the world,” said H. Kim Bottomly, president of the Massachusetts liberal arts college.
Many higher education leaders wonder how offering free online courses will shake up the market. Demand for the courses from brand-name schools has surged this year worldwide.