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MIT's Online Education Prototype Opens For Enrollment 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-they-face-the-wrath-of-khan dept.
OldHawk777 writes with news that MITx, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's online learning initiative, has opened free enrollment for its first course: 6.002x: Circuits and Electronics. "Modeled after MIT’s 6.002 — an introductory course for undergraduate students in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) — 6.002x will introduce engineering in the context of the lumped circuit abstraction, helping students make the transition from physics to the fields of electrical engineering and computer science. ... 'We are very excited to begin MITx with this prototype class,' says MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif. 'We will use this prototype course to optimize the tools we have built by soliciting and acting on feedback from learners.' To access the course, registered students will log in at mitx.mit.edu, where they will find a course schedule, an e-textbook for the course, and a discussion board. Each week, students will watch video lectures and demonstrations, work with practice exercises, complete homework assignments, and participate in an online interactive lab specifically designed to replicate its real-world counterpart. Students will also take exams and be able to check their grades as they progress in the course. Overall, students can expect to spend approximately 10 hours each week on the course."
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MIT's Online Education Prototype Opens For Enrollment

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  • by Cyphase (907627)
    Hooray for free online education! *goes to OCW to refresh prereqs*
  • For a FREE education from MIT, go to prep.ai.mit.edu [mit.edu].
  • wow really interesting, i'm gonna check it out.

  • by killfixx (148785) * on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:06PM (#39026865) Journal

    Guess it's time to see if I can hang...

  • A brave new world (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:29PM (#39027049)
    I have been enjoying the Stanford CompSci stuff. It lacks polish but it is great. I love the teaching company stuff as well. Online lectures are still all a bit of a dogs breakfast but they can only get better and better. But at some point I could see the free online product being better than that offered by most Podunk universities. There will always be gaps such as doing a chemistry lab but at some point soon online free will be better than the worst North American institutions.
    I have four questions:
    These online courses in many cases are certainly better lectures than those given by 99% of local lecturers so when will local courses use this resource?
    When will you be able to get a usable certificate from these places?
    And when will employers begin recognizing them?
    And what happens to the whole going to University experience if you sit in front of a computer for 4 years? This last leads me to believe that the most likely outcome will be a blending of bricks, mortar, and internet.

    And a side point. This doesn't just apply to University. The Teaching company has HS level courses that blow anything I took completely out of the water.
    • by spopepro (1302967) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:57PM (#39027397)

      It's funny you chose that title, as Huxley would very much disapprove of what is going on here. Thousands of students planted in front of machines getting the knowledge they need placed inside of them... which is admittedly an exaggeration for effect, but one that I believe in.

      I took Thurn and Norvig's into to AI class and was pretty thoroughly disappointed. But I am also disappointed in most of what went on in my undergraduate school, and equally disappointed with myself when I was yapping in front of calculus students at the UC when I was lecturing there. The problem is that lecturing is really crappy for actually learning anything. However, it's the easiest thing to do, and scales remarkably well. Furthermore, adult learners love it. Especially those who have already learned something about the subject. The process usually goes: student learns something marginally well, hears a concise explanation/lecture on the subject later, things connect and click into place, and then the learner says "well why the hell didn't they just do that in the first place?!?". The answer is that it wouldn't have worked in the first place. It works now because of the scaffolding afforded by your earlier education (re your HS courses being blown out of the water).

      It was best said at a paper presentation I went to recently that "we need to get out of this mode of believing that if we can just find someone to explain things better than anyone else then we can record it, package it, and solve all of our educational problems." Students need to do, experience, build knowledge and skills. Sure, lecture can be a part of it, but I think most people find that exercises, study groups (especially the more collaborative ones), labs and other more constructivistic experiences are what made the content from lectures stick. So the answer isn't in the content, but rather the glue that does the blending you speak of above.

      • It's funny you chose that title, as Huxley would very much disapprove of what is going on here.

        Meh - Huxley stole the line from Shakespeare... I'm not quite so sure that he'd have disapproved. ;-)

      • I took Thurn and Norvig's into to AI class and was pretty thoroughly disappointed. But I am also disappointed in most of what went on in my undergraduate school, and equally disappointed with myself when I was yapping in front of calculus students at the UC when I was lecturing there. The problem is that lecturing is really crappy for actually learning anything. However, it's the easiest thing to do, and scales remarkably well. Furthermore, adult learners love it. Especially those who have already learned something about the subject. The process usually goes: student learns something marginally well, hears a concise explanation/lecture on the subject later, things connect and click into place, and then the learner says "well why the hell didn't they just do that in the first place?!?". The answer is that it wouldn't have worked in the first place. It works now because of the scaffolding afforded by your earlier education (re your HS courses being blown out of the water).

        I can't agree with that. I've done a heck of a lot of time as an undergrad, through various media.

        I studied computing full time at one of Scotland's top unis. I studied two-and-a-half language degrees with the Open University of the UK -- one of the oldest and best-respected distance learning establishments in existence. I'm now doing mixed-mode study with one of Scotland's newest universities, the UHI.

        I've studied by lecture, by book, by TV documentary, and by online text.

        The best stuff I ever studied w

      • Important distinction: It differs from Huxley's scary envisioning because those (viewing? using? taking?) the material have chosen to. Were they to become homogenizing, brainwashing, lowest-common-denominator, they'd choose something else.

      • Are you kidding me? I hated re-learning what I already knew in lectures. The only ones I enjoyed were where there was actual new stuff.. which was usually in the second half of a semester, when I'd already stopped attending the lectures and instead just read the online lecture notes.

        I've learned way more just reading books, magazines and web pages than I ever did at University.

        All these free online courses recently have been first year material, ie very broad and not very deep at all. You'd be better off ju

    • by Yoda222 (943886)
      I think it's a bad idea to have only one source of education for everyone. Of course, if you have a lot of different sources, some people will have better classes than other. But the progress in science/technology/whatever are made when people discuss together and when each has its own point of view. I think that if everyone gets the same classes, it will slow down innovations, because these people will think "in the same way".
  • Education should be free. and also medicine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Better yet, YOU should make it free. It's easy to demand things from other people, but very difficult to share what you know.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by VortexCortex (1117377)

        Better yet, YOU should make it free. It's easy to demand things from other people, but very difficult to share what you know.

        Hmm. Well, that's what I always do: Share what I know. In fact, the way I learn is to create 'How To' guides for how to do X. In the process of creating the guide I've learned it, or vise versa. Think of it as working around the material's copyrights and artificial obsolescence by creating my own unique texts. In fact, in the past people have purchased my "notes" because they were better than what the textbook and professor offered in the way of understandable explanations; I've also been a tutor both

  • by PJ6 (1151747) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:40PM (#39027159)
    Just the other day I got stuck on a particularly woolly Project Euler problem and cruised on by http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/ [mit.edu] to finally learn 6.042/18.062. I was actually prepared to learn a whole course worth of material, was psyched I'd found the motivation, only to have cold water poured on me when I discovered that the problem set solutions aren't posted. Looked around at other courses and found that this is not uncommon.

    What's the point of this MITx with only one course? Why don't they get serious with what they started with OpenCourseWare first? I'd like to see them go all-in for most of course 6, 8, and 18.
    • by Galestar (1473827)

      What's the point of this MITx with only one course? Why don't they get serious with what they started with OpenCourseWare first?

      Its probably better that they have a pilot course first to iron out the bugs rather than try to do 100 courses all at the beginning.
      I'm sure we will see more courses coming in the future.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Most universities will let you browse module pages (the ones for current students) and plenty of lecturers host their teaching material themselves (publicly). The difference is that MIT has, misleadingly, packaged it as free courseware.

      Really all they've done is look at any module in the entire catalogue that has some publicly available information, even if it's just an exam paper, and class it as an online course.

  • "You must know basic calculus and linear algebra and have some background in differential equations." Stupid math... someone point me to a refresher....
  • 6.002x is an MIT subject. VI is an MIT course.

  • by schlachter (862210) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @12:59AM (#39029389)

    Will be interesting to see how this affects admissions...as High Schoolers will likely be trying to take courses in advance of their application to MIT (or other schools for that matter) and will then reference these courses and the grades they received in their application.

    Hey, maybe it's a better admission criterium than GPA or SAT?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Will be interesting to see how this affects admissions...as High Schoolers will likely be

      ... completely uninterested in this. Here are the course requirements:

      "Requirements

      In order to succeed in this course, you must have taken an AP level physics course in electricity and magnetism. You must know basic calculus and linear algebra and have some background in differential equations. Since more advanced mathematics will not show up until the second half of the course, the first half of the course will include an optional remedial differential equations component for those who need it.

      Good luck finding a physics program in today's high schools, even in the AP track, which offers that in 11th or 12th grade. I graduated in the early 90's, and my high school was one of about a dozen which even offered an advanced physics course; there are so few that you can't even find textbooks any more. The remaining handful of instructors use a combination of college texts and material they have to create on their own.

      Look around the

  • This is starting slow - but, these online courses will be the next "big" thing - simply because they are so much more affordable than traditional college courses! The question is -- how does a college verify the person taking the tests?? Will be fun to watch this develop!
  • It'd be interesting to see if a real degree could be acquired using nothing but the free courses being offered at various universities. So long as they all take each others credits it shouldn't be an issue.

    Maybe not a FREE masters or doctorate, but, possibly, a significantly reduced cost. You'd only need to grab some humanities to "round out" your education.

    I would love that! :)

  • Many universities like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale ... have over the past decade been developing and researching fresh learning architectures related to evolving demographics of present, future, global, and lifetime learners. The brick and mortar, and legacy rote-pedagogy centric models are limited by culture-bias, geography, and economics.

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