Microsoft to Create Free Online Programming Courses for EdX

Microsoft is dipping its toe in the world of free online education, partnering with Cambridge, MA-based EdX to create courses for software developers.

EdX announced Tuesday that the courses would be the latest addition to its curriculum of interactive and massive open online courses, or MOOCs. EdX is a nonprofit founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, and it offers more than 300 courses created by universities, nonprofits, and businesses from around the world.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is EdX’s first corporate partner, according to a release. The courses are intended to teach core development skills and will feature interactive coding, assessments, and exercises. The first set of courses will begin at the end of this month and will be free to enroll in, although students must pay a fee if they wish to received a “verified certificate” showing they’ve passed.

Judging by the list of the first seven courses, the emphasis will be on programming languages or applications developed by Microsoft, such as TypeScript, Transact-SQL, and Office 365. But there also are courses on C# programming and Bootstrap, which is open source and used in mobile-first website design.

This isn’t the first time EdX has partnered with a tech industry giant. Google worked with the nonprofit to create the Open EdX “open source learning platform” and has a hand in the yet-to-be-launched MOOC.org project, which is like a YouTube for online courses created by schools and organizations outside the EdX consortium. The site was supposed to launch in 2014 but apparently continues to be delayed.

Microsoft meanwhile has worked with EdX to write software using Office Mix that allows teachers to add additional content to their courses.

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