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IMF will offer online courses through edX

The International Monetary Fund will begin offering courses on financial and economic issues through edX, the online education collaborative created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the global development and finance agency said.

The IMF becomes the first institution outside of higher education to offer courses through edX, a nonprofit that offers free online classes from 27 universities across the country. The IMF now offers courses for central bankers, financial officials, and economic policy makers in the organization’s 188 member nations, but will use edX to expand its reach.

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“We’re pleased to get our material to a broader public,” said Sharmini Coorey, director of the Institute for Capacity Development at the IMF, which provides members with economic management training.

The IMF will initially offer two classes.

The first, Financial Programming and Policies, teaches how economies work and is very popular among government officials who have taken the course. The other class, Debt Sustainability Analysis, is relevant to those interested in learning about issues related to debt crises affecting European and other nations, Coorey said. Its data-intensive material will work well in an online platform, she added.

Both will be intensive, two-week courses that students can work through at their own pace. The IMF will begin with a pilot program targeted at small groups of government officials, then open the courses to the public starting in 2014.

Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, said the online educational platform will allow the IMF to reach more people than ever while helping edX expand its offerings beyond university courses, with content from other independent institutions and nongovernmental organizations.

“I view this as a collaborative experiment with the IMF,” he said. “If this pilot is successful, we’re very interested in scaling up the number of IMF courses and adding additional organizations.”

Gail Waterhouse can be reached at gail.waterhouse@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @gailwaterhouse.
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