From The NYT, December 19, 2011 (by Tamar Lewin):
While students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology pay thousands of dollars for courses, the university will announce a new program on Monday allowing anyone anywhere to take M.I.T. courses online free of charge — and for the first time earn official certificates for demonstrating mastery of the subjects taught. […]
While access to the software will be free, there will most likely be an “affordable” charge, not yet determined, for a credential. […]
The certificate will not be a regular M.I.T. degree, but rather a credential bearing the name of a new not-for-profit body to be created within M.I.T; revenues from the credentialing, officials said, would go to support the M.I.T.x platform and to further M.I.T’s mission.
[With thanks to muriel]