Rice University launched a free Advanced Placement biology course Monday on a website overseen by two other elite schools, a potentially significant milestone for a movement that aims to bring college-level courses to high school students.


The site, edX, was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in 2012 as a nonprofit platform for those universities and selected others to offer massive open online courses, or MOOCs, to the world.


AP biology from Rice is the first MOOC on the site advertised as an AP course for high school students. It is divided into four content segments — the Cell, Genetics, Evolution and Diversity, and Ecology — followed by an exam in April.