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Wellesley College joins online education venture

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BOSTON (AP) — Anyone with an Internet connection will be able to take free classes at Wellesley College next fall.

The women's liberal arts college outside Boston will offer free online classes through the nonprofit venture edX.

Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology teamed up to fund and launch the online platform this year.

Massive online open courses, known as MOOCs, that are available now include computer science and chemistry courses.

Wellesley will add four liberal arts courses to edX, a partnership the school sees as a way to educate people, particularly women, around the world.

"There might be women who have access to a computer, but may not have access to a university education who might be reached by this method of delivering education," Wellesley provost and dean Andy Shennan said Monday.

Wellesley already has exchange programs with other colleges, so it won't be the first time male students can take a course at the college, whose alumni include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Edx students can't currently earn college credits or degrees through the online classes.

But edX president Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor, said Monday it's up to participating schools to decide whether to grant credits.

He said the University of Texas, which joined edX in October, plans to offer college credits.

Current edX students come from nearly 200 countries and more than 300,000 students signed up for fall courses, which included classes from the University of California, Berkeley.

Harvard and MIT also will use the edX platform to research how students learn and how technology influences the process.

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