The edX project, set up by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced a plan to 'bring a new teaching model to the classroom'.
It will blend edX's online lectures and materials with classroom learning.
EdX president Anant Agarwal pointed to the value to tight college budgets.
Online courses have become an increasingly important topic in higher education - particularly in the United States, where they have been seen as a way of widening access and tackling spiralling costs. These so-called MOOCs - massive open online courses - have attracted millions of students since they were launched by some of the biggest names in US higher education. This latest initiative from edX is experimenting with how these course materials might be used in the classroom by students in two community colleges in Massachusetts, Bunker Hill and MassBay. Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, with more than 13,000 students, serves a diverse, multicultural community.
The project will link these students with the same materials being used by their neighbours in Harvard and MIT. This will be funded with $1m (£630,000) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which wants to support innovation in education... Online courses are already being used by many students who are studying at home. And a rival online university platform, Coursera, has made its own significant advance for such students - as it announced an agreement to assess how its online courses could be counted as credits towards a degree..."