MITx Course Review Part 4: Post Midterm

MITx 6.002x Half Time

MITx is up to week 8 now, (with the week 9 material available) meaning we have just crossed the half way point. More importantly, we have just dealt with the course midterm; And since it was instantly graded I already know I received a 96% on the exam. Woo! This seems like a perfect time to update the progress of the course, and go over the exam procedure presented by MITx.

For the other parts of my review you can see:

  • Part 1: Introducing MITx's take on open education, and a look at the course ware platform
  • Part 2: Exploring 6.002x Circuit design, examining the content delivery tools
  • Part 3: A Students perspective after the first few weeks of class
  • Part 5: Surviving the Final, Closing thoughts, Future of open education

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MITx Course Review Part 3: A Students Perspective

Personal Review

In the next part of my MITx series, I'm going to give my own personal commentary about the experience of attending the first two weeks of 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics). For the other parts of my review you can see:

  • Part 1: Introducing MITx's take on open education, and a look at the course ware platform
  • Part 2: Exploring 6.002x Circuit design, examining the content delivery tools
  • Part 4: Post midterm, Reporting on the exam and the updates made to the system
  • Part 5: Surviving the Final, Closing thoughts, Future of open education

Circuits and Electronics

6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is a class about how to analyze and build simple circuits. This means being able to estimate the voltage, current, resistances, or behavior of a given circuit; or alternatively being able to build a circuit in order to produce a specific behavior. To put another way, this course is the study of how to read or create circuit blueprints. When you break these concepts down into their simplest form, the foundations of circuits isn't as complicated as you might think.

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MITx Course Review Part 2: Content delivery

Content delivery

MIT has launched a new site for the purpose of providing a free online university education to anyone in the world. For our next look into this system, we will take a look at the corseware section and how they are delivering the bulk of the content for the course. For the other parts of my review you can see:

  • Part 1: Introducing MITx's take on open education, and a look at the course ware platform
  • Part 3: A Students perspective after the first few weeks of class
  • Part 4: Post midterm, Reporting on the exam and the updates made to the system
  • Part 5: Surviving the Final, Closing thoughts, Future of open education

The class

As it is their flagship run, MITx is currently only offering one class, 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics). The 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is a required entry level class in their undergraduate program for both Electrical Engineer (EE) or Electrical Engineering Computer Science (EECS) majors. This makes it a fairly high traffic class that a lot of people will want to take. This course is also a good balance of an entry level introductory topic while still having a lot of high concepts and complexities.

A lot of the Circuit course is based on mathematics which makes it easier to create an automatic grading system for homework and exercises; but the course also involves building circuitry as well, giving them the chance to test out a fairly involved lab emulation system as well.

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MITx Course Review Part 1: Introduction to the open education system

MITx launches the flagship course of its open education program

MIT has launched its first class as part of its open source MITx initiative. MITx will provide a free online University level education to anyone in the world, using course content from the MIT on campus curriculum. The class 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is being used as a prototype to test the system, which they expect to launch in earnest this fall with several available classes. Once the system is ready, MITx intends to make its software and web components open source so other institutions can take advantage of this technology as well.

As of their press release, more then 90,000 students have registered to participate in the free course which will be running for 14 weeks starting from March 5th until June; and it is still possible to register. The class is available to absolutely anyone, and for this first experimental class they are waiving the testing fee for the certification of completion. There are already many students from overseas or who have English as a second language singed up for the course. MIT plan on translating the course lectures into other languages in the future.

Despite only hearing about it after the class had launched, I was still able to sign up for the class. You can find a faq about their very first course here. If you are really interested in MITx or the concept of University level open source learning I suggest you to do the same just to see how they are delivering this course ware. Of course if you don't want to go to all of that trouble, I am going to report back on my impressions and review of the course here!

In the first part of my review, I'm going to take a look at the general structure of the sites features. For the other parts of my review you can see:

  • Part 2: Exploring 6.002x Circuit design, examining the content delivery tools
  • Part 3: A Students perspective after the first few weeks of class
  • Part 4: Post midterm, Reporting on the exam and the updates made to the system
  • Part 5: Surviving the Final, Closing thoughts, Future of open education

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Open Source Education

The Idea of a free online education has been around for a while, but despite the availability of instant access to information across the world for years now, we are only just seeing groups starting to take advantage of the potential. So who is going to finally crack the formula for effective engaging online education?

There are plenty of sites that offer tutorials or information about a specific subject. It is even possible to pay a tuition to attend online universities of various reputations. But few actually attempt to offer a free, effective, engaging educational experience that is geared towards the internet. Fortunately there are a few organizations stepping up to take on this issue such as the Khan academy. There are even several prominent universities that are looking into solutions for this as well.

For a while now MIT has been offering OpenCourseWare on the web; A catalog of over 2000 different MIT courses offering lecture notes, assignments, exams, and video's from an entire semester worth of classes. All of these resources are taken directly from the same classes they teach on campus to MIT students seeking their Graduate or Master degrees. Best of all it is entirely free and no registration is required.

Open Course Ware is an incredible resource, but not without its issues. For one you don't have access to the text books (sold separately), and similarly the lecture notes they provide are delivered as power points without any of the dialog that expanded on them. Assignments and exams don't always include answers. Video media are just recordings of the full hour-long class lectures. And you can not get any degree or certification by simply completing the content on your own.  Still it is free content from one of the most highly respected schools in its field, and now MIT thinks it can do even better.

The really cool news is that MIT intends to create brand new content based on their open course ware that is produced specifically for the web. Currently called MITx, it was built from the ground up to be a web-based experience available to everyone. Just like their open course ware it will be completely free, while MIT on campus students will see it start to supplement their in class education as well. They even intend to offer high quality certification testing, where for a fee you take a fairly challenging test that will prove your credentials for many high level topics.

The pilot program is supposedly being made available this spring. So with the idea of open source education in mind I wanted to take a minute to think about how producing educating content for the web will be different from an on-campus education.

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