Given my ability to keep up on this blog, and the demands of the Mechanical MOOC blog (http://mechanicalmooc.wordpress.com), about the last thing I need is to be responsible for the care and feeding of yet another. But despite my personal misgivings, we are launching an official MIT OpenCourseWare blog, Open Matters, at http://mitopencourseware.wordpress.com.
To be honest, we’ve needed it for some time, but weren’t sure we had the capacity to keep it stocked with good content; at this point, though, there is just so much going on in open ed that we need a more flexible way of getting news out. So, if you follow me here, please follow me there. For the time being there will likely be duplication here and there, but eventually the two paths will diverge in a yellow wood.
MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin announces massive open online course through edX.
CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 23, 2013 – Walter Lewin, the MIT physics professor who has achieved an unparalleled following through his video lectures on the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) site, is now offering a massive open online course (MOOC). The course, 8.02x Electricity and Magnetism, is available through edX, MIT and Harvard’s not-for-profit online learning enterprise. Announced today and starting February 18th, the course may well become the biggest of the MOOC yet offered. Learners successfully completing the course will receive a certificate bearing Professor Lewin’s signature to recognize their achievement.
In the past two years, MOOCs have been putting up impressive numbers. The first MOOC offered by MIT, 6.002x Circuits and Electronics, enrolled more than 150,000 learners, and other edX courses have been attracting learners numbering in the tens of thousands. Millions worldwide have taken free massive open online classes through edX and other providers.
But these numbers pale in comparison to the numbers associated with Professor Lewin’s online course materials published through MIT OpenCourseWare:
- Professor Lewin’s courses—including 8.01 Classical Mechanics, 8.02 Electricity and Magnetism and 8.03 Vibrations and Waves—have been visited more than 8 million times on OCW
- The video lectures for these courses have been viewed more than 11.4 million times on YouTube
- The first lecture for 8.01 has been viewed more than 1.2 million times on YouTube
- Translations of Professor Lewin’s courses in Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Turkish and Thai have been accessed by hundreds of thousands of learners
The extent of Professor Lewin’s global recognition through OCW has the potential to attract an enormous number of learners to his edX course.
Professor Lewin’s course, however, has more to offer than just size. His lectures are recognized worldwide for their quality and clarity, and approach the material with MIT-level rigor. Learners taking the course will get a taste of what it’s like to attend a first-year physics class at MIT, complete with assessments similar to those MIT students receive. The class offers the opportunity for the millions who have gained a new appreciation of Physics through Professor Lewin’s lectures to test that understanding using the latest online learning tools, and to receive a certificate recognizing their achievement.
Prerequisite courses for 8.02x include 8.01 Classical Mechanics and 18.01 Single Variable Calculus, both of which are available for independent study on the OCW site in the unique OCW Scholar format. OCW Scholar courses provide MIT course materials in a self-guided format that can be accessed at any time, but do not include instructor support or recognition for completion.
In addition to Professor Lewin’s class, MIT has announced another new course, The Challenges of Global Poverty from Esther Duflo, to be offered through edX; Introduction to Computer Science and Programming and Introduction to Solid State Chemistry, both offered in 2012, are again available in 2013.
About Professor Walter Lewin
A native of The Netherlands, Professor Walter H. G. Lewin received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Delft (1965). In 1966, he came to MIT as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Physics and was invited to join the faculty as an Assistant Professor later that same year. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Physics in 1968 and to full Professor in 1974. Professor Lewin’s honors and awards include the NASA Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (1978), twice recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Award (1984 and 1991), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), MIT’s Science Council Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1984) and the W. Buechner Teaching Prize of the MIT Department of Physics (1988). In 1997, he was the recipient of a NASA Group Achievement Award for the Discovery of the Bursting Pulsar. He is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (elected 1993), Fellow of the American Physical Society.
EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX uses its open source technology to transcend physical and social borders. We’re focused on people, not profit. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.
About MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,150 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 2 million website visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 150 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.
Innovative model combining open education resources drew 6,000 registrants for first offering
CAMBRIDGE, MA, November 8th, 2012 — In August of this year, a group of leading open education projects announced the launch of a massive open online class (MOOC) that had no instructor or central learning platform. This so-called “mechanical” MOOC combined the offerings of three leading open education projects—MIT OpenCourseWare, OpenStudy and Codecademy—loosely linked together by an e-mail list to create a free and open course on introductory Python programming. The initial offering of the course, managed by Peer 2 Peer University, attracted 6,000 learners from around the world. A second round of the course will begin in late November, even before the first has concluded.
Sign up for the next offering of A Gentle Introduction to Python at http://mechanicalmooc.org
The vision for the course is that the e-mail list helps participants to keep moving through the materials together, but also provides flexibility supporting the differing pace of individual learners. ”There’s no penalty for working faster or slower than the e-mail schedule,” notes P2PU Executive Director Philipp Schimdt. ”Since the resources are all openly available, our job is more about creating community than enforcing rigid schedules.” The e-mail list driven model also means that new rounds of the course can be started at any time, allowing multiple cohorts of students to move through the materials and even support one another.
“There are tremendous advantages to our approach,” comments OpenStudy’s co-founder and CEO Preetha Ram. ”The learners from the first round are now four weeks into the course. They’ll be a tremendous resource for the learners starting in the second round. And for students in the first round who are struggling, they have the option of dropping back to the second round.” P2PU’s Schmidt also notes that the Mechanical MOOC model supports very rapid iteration and improvement. ”We’re folding what we learn from the first round directly into the second round six weeks later. We don’t have to wait for a semester to end or course to conclude.”
The Gentle Introduction to Python course combines content from MIT OpenCourseWare’s 6.189 A Gentle Introduction to Python class, with a study group supported through OpenStudy and instant feedback and practice projects from Codecademy. Learners earn badges demonstrating mastery through Codecademy and earn recognition of collaborative skills through OpenStudy’s SmartScore.
The Peer 2 Peer University is a grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. P2PU creates a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional formal higher education. Leveraging the internet and educational materials openly available online, P2PU enables high-quality low-cost education opportunities. P2PU – learning for everyone, by everyone about almost anything.
OpenStudy is a social study network where students can ask questions, give help, collaborate and meet others. Founded by professors and students from Georgia Tech and Emory University, and funded by the National Science Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OpenStudy believes that students can teach other students through collaborative learning. OpenStudy believes in making the world one large study group where students can work together in a single place regardless of their school, country or background.
Codecademy is the easiest way to learn to code. Since its launch in August of 2011, Codecademy has been used by millions of users in more than 100 countries. Users learn to build websites, create web applications, and to understand the fundamentals of computer science through an innovative, interactive interface. Codecademy is funded by top tier investors like Union Square Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.
About MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,100 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 1.75 million web site visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 125 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.
Peer 2 Peer University
Had the pleasure of appearing last week on a DC cable show, Higher Ed Today, along with Candace Thille of CMU’s OLI. Thanks, Steven!
For your viewing pleasure:
My first job out of grad school was as the coordinator of Emerson College’s adult degree program. Without a doubt, the highlight of the job was the daily contact with the amazingly motivated and persistent adult students who were overcoming tremendous challenges to complete their degrees. Their enthusiasm for learning and pride of accomplishment was absolutely infectious.
There are lots of great things about my current gig for sure, but close contact with motivated learners has not been one of them–until now. We are a few days away from the official start of our Mechanical MOOC Python course, and already I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to interact with the learners participating in the course.
The enthusiasm they show, the extent to which they are already working ahead through the material and helping each other, the Twitter stream and blog posts about the course all bring back that feeling of really helping people to do something they care about.
No doubt that OCW does this too, but my daily connection to it is abstract, often discussed in numbers. Nice to reconnect more firmly with the people.
Videos follow 14 MIT freshmen through their introduction to hands-on science.
CAMBRIDGE, MA, September 18, 2012 — MIT OpenCourseWare has released the first episode of its newest open educational offering, ChemLab Boot Camp, a video series that chronicles the experiences of 14 real MIT freshmen as they get their first taste of working in MIT chemistry labs.
Each year, groups of MIT freshmen are introduced to MIT’s laboratory environment through a four-week January course called 5.301 Chemistry Laboratory Techniques. In January 2012, a film crew followed these students as they competed to complete experiments. The stakes in the class are high—students who pass the class are guaranteed a job in an MIT research lab.
Ten additional episodes will be released each week through the fall, and announced on the ChemLab Boot Camp e-mail list. The 2-5 minute episodes, shot in a style that mixes the geek fun of open educational resources with the immediacy of reality TV, brings viewers closer to the experience of being an MIT student than ever before. Follow the students as they struggle to master the intricacies of working with solvents and compete to create the largest crystals. The videos are part of a broader effort funded by The Dow Chemical Company to foster interest in science and engineering careers.
“Despite the critical need for more and more people trained in chemistry and chemical engineering, the fields have not been as attractive as they should be,” said MIT Professor John Essigmann in commenting on the inspiration for the series. “Dow and MIT have mobilized our collective resources to try to show high school and college students what it is like to be a chemist. We hope to show the human side of our field and to inspire young people to want to become the next generation of chemists.”
The MIT-Dow Outreach Fund is designed to develop and support the science and engineering careers of underrepresented minorities and women. A five-year, $2 million commitment from The Dow Chemical Company, the fund supports the advancement of the shared goals of both Dow and MIT to support science education throughout the entire pipeline. The establishment of this Outreach Program comes as MIT celebrates its 150th anniversary.
Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines the power of science and technology to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The Company connects chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, renewable energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow’s diversified industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 160 countries and in high growth sectors such as electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. In 2011, Dow had annual sales of $60 billion and employed approximately 52,000 people worldwide. The Company’s more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 197 sites in 36 countries across the globe. References to “Dow” or the “Company” mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. More information about Dow can be found at www.dow.com.
About Highlights for High School
Highlights for High School organizes more than 70 introductory level courses from the OCW site, and indexes over 2,700 individual resources to the AP curricula for calculus, chemistry, physics and biology, helping United States AP students and educators to find resources quickly. Highlights also includes dozens of demonstrations, competitions and other activities from MIT classes that show how fun and challenging science and technology subjects can be, inspiring the next generation of US engineers and scientists.
About MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,100 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 1.75 million web site visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 100 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.
(714) 573-0899 ext. 225
I’m working with a group of testers to run through the initial draft of the course sequence for the upcoming Mechanical MOOC Intro to Python course, and I have to say, I am really loving the unplatform aspects of it. I live in one of the more wired cities in the US, and I still spend a fair amount of my time outside of WiFi range. I tried to complete the Udacity Stats course this summer, but one of the challenges was that I always had to be connected. My biggest blocks of free time are during my train commute, when theoretically I have wireless service (from AT&T) but practically I have at best spotty cell coverage (from AT&T). This meant no working on the Stats course during the ride.
Because the Mechanical MOOC depends on existing open content outside of an enforced platform, I have other options. MIT OpenCourseWare helpfully provides a course download option, so I have the 6.189 course installed locally. The text for the course is an open resource downloadable as a PDF. The videos from 6.00 are available through iTunes U, so accessible offline on both my laptop and phone. As an added bonus, OpenStudy just released a mobile interface, so I can even ask and answer questions without a WiFi connection. Codecademy even seems to be functional on my iPhone at some level, though I doubt I’ll try to complete those lessons on that platform.
By not creating and enforcing a single platform, the Mechanical MOOC gives up the opportunity to harvest lots of tightly integrated data about the learners, but it allows us to take advantage of all the hard work that the content and community providers have put into making their environment accessible and inviting. Hopefully this model is going to allow us to meet the learners where they live.
Here’s a paragraph from my review of Taylor Walsh’s book Unlocking the Gates. The review was published in the Continuing Higher Education Review, Vol. 76, 2012. Walsh’s book reviews a number of the early online courseware efforts, including Fathom.com, MIT OpenCourseWare, Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative and India’s National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).
What is consistent for me between these projects and the subsequent MOOCs at Stanford and MIT is that they are all in one way or another institutional answers to the question MIT president Charles Vest posed in 2000 to the committee that ultimately recommended MIT OpenCourseWare: How will the Internet change education, and what should our university do about it? That charge has echoed throughout the open-education community in the last decade as schools continue to grapple with these fundamental issues, and with the emergence of the newest generation of open online offerings, MOOCs, these questions take on increasing urgency.
What is a “MOOC”?
A massive open online course. They’re the latest rage in online learning. OK, they’ve actually been around a while in a variety of different forms, the first of which was a free-for-all approach with little central control where learners co-create a learning experience (“cMOOCs”), and the more recent variety, which are much more like traditional online classes (“xMOOCs”). You can read more about them at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course
In both cases, lots and lots of people get together to learn online. These courses are scalable because of peer learning environments that allow the learners to support each other, and because of assessment engines that automate feedback. Typically, participants number on the thousands, though some recent examples have included more than 100,000 initial participants.
OK, what is a “mechanical” MOOC?
Well, with previous MOOCs, there’s still been a professor who offers the course. Our course has no instructor. Our theory is that online learning tools have become robust enough with a light amount of coordination, learners can move through them together and support each other’s learning without a central authority
We are establishing a mailing list that will coordinate learner activities across a selection of online tools, letting you know when class activities are taking place and where to go to participate.
Why would you create a Mechanical MOOC?
We have a theory about MOOCs as they exist today. The first version of MOOCs–the cMOOCs–we think, are a little too unstructured for many learners, casting them into an unbounded environment of blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and other web technologies that are more than many learners can or want to manage.
On the other hand, the new strain of MOOCs–the xMOOCs–offered out of major universities and their spinoffs seem to be all competing to create the killer platform, and we have doubts that this can—or should–be done successfully. Usually, when sites try to do it all, they end up doing not much of it very well.
The lesson of open education in the past 10 years seems to be that the components of education—content, community and assessment—can be unbundled, and that sites can focus on providing one aspect of education very well. So we are combining three “best-of-breed” sites to create an offering that we think is as good or better than other approaches.
Is this course competing with the Stanford’s and MIT’s of the world?
No, this is an experiment to test our theory about the current MOOCs. Whatever comes out of it will be a very different learning experience than either the cMOOCs or xMOOCs. It will hopefully be more structured that the former and less structured than the latter.
It will certainly not be a neat and polished environment where all the pieces are custom-created to fit together neatly. But on the other hand, we hope to bring together the best of what’s already out there without having to build anything from scratch–a significant cost advantage, and a model that will empower many more open education projects to experiment with MOOC-like offerings.
What course are you offering?
The first course will be called “A gentle introduction to Python” and will be, well, a gentle introduction to Python programming.
Who is offering the class?
A group of leading open education sites are involved, including Peer 2 Peer University, OpenStudy, Codecademy, and MIT OpenCourseWare. Peer 2 Peer University is managing the mailing list.
MIT is participating. Is this an MITx offering? A competing program?
Neither. MIT OpenCourseWare supports all experiments involving their content that are consistent with the mission and spirit of the program, and this is one of them. We all have a lot to learn about how open learning takes place, and the more data points the better. This MOOC will not offer an MITx certificate.
How big will this Mechanical MOOC be?
We don’t know, but we’re confident it can be very big. These sites already serve thousands and in some cases millions of users, so we can handle whatever may come. But we’re ok if it’s small also. Our concern is less about getting huge numbers in the front end, and more about delivering a good learning experience for everyone who participates.
How can I get to know others who are studying?
OpenStudy will provide a forum where all learners can interact in one big study group, so that’s a great place to start. We’re also offering the opportunity for learners to be assigned to groups of ten, so that you can work more closely with a more limited cohort.
Where do I sign up?
Sign up for the mailing list at http://mechanicalmooc.org/. You’ll also have to register eventually for the OpenStudy site and Codecademy, but this can be done as the course progresses, so no worries.
Do I get a certificate?
Nope, but both Codecademy offers badges and OpenStudy has SmartScore, so you’ll get recognition of your work there. One of our long-term goals for Mechanical MOOC is to figure out how recognition works in this approach. NOTE: This MOOC will not offer an MITx certificate.
What good are the badges?
They are a shorthand for sharing your informal educational achievements on the Web, and a lot of smart people, including the good folks at Mozilla, are working hard to figure out how to make them more meaningful.
Can I use other sites and services with this course?
Absolutely. We encourage participants to bring in other tools, self-organize, and share what they are doing with the rest of the community. We’re tyring to learn here as well.
Leading open learning projects create a massive online course that combines best-of-breed open offerings
MIT OpenCourseWare, OpenStudy, Codecademy, and Peer 2 Peer University join to offer “mechanical” MOOC
CAMBRIDGE, MA, August 21, 2012 — In the past year, schools including Stanford, MIT and Harvard–and spinoffs including Coursera and Udacity–have begun offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) where students numbering in the hundreds of thousands are taught by one or two instructors and a few TAs. Now a group of leading open education projects is announcing the launch of a new MOOC offering in October 2012 with no instructor involved–and in fact no one institution or organization in charge. This so-called “mechanical” MOOC will combine the offerings of three leading open education projects–MIT OpenCourseWare, OpenStudy and Codecademy–loosely linked together by an e-mail list managed by Peer 2 Peer University to create a free and open course on introductory Python Programming.
“The MOOCs that have come out in the last six months are really incredible and have truly moved the needle for online learning,” said P2PU co-founder and Executive Director Philipp Schmidt, “but they are based on very sophisticated central platforms and require significant resources to develop. The mechanical MOOC is an attempt to leverage the power of the open web–by loosely joining together a set of independent building blocks. Rather than developing a new platform that does everything–deliver content, support community, provide feedback–we are simply connecting some of the most interesting applications out there, and letting each take care of a particular aspect of the overall learning experience. “
The course will combine content from MIT OpenCourseWare’s 6.189 A Gentle Introduction to Python class, with a study group supported through OpenStudy and instant feedback and practice projects from Codecademy. Learners will earn badges demonstrating mastery through Codecademy and will earn recognition of collaborative skills through OpenStudy’s SmartScore.
Participants will register for a mailing list that will coordinate their progress through the content and assessments and signal when discussions on particular topics will occur. The sequencing e-mails will run in multiple rounds, allowing learners who are struggling to fall back into the next round and repeat units and still have a cohort of learners, rather than being left completely behind.
“We want to do more than sign-up tens of thousands of students and have only a fraction succeed,“ commented OpenStudy co-founder Preetha Ram. “Our goal is to have everyone who participates succeed. We want to help learners remain engaged throughout the course and be supported by a community.”
Already, these sites individually draw huge audiences: MIT OpenCourseWare attracts more than 1 million visitors a month, OpenStudy sees 250,000 students coming for help each month, including 16,000 in an introductory programming group, and Codecademy has seen several million users since August 2011. Each program has demonstrated the ability to deliver its particular service at scale, and this offering will seek to build on those successes by building synergies between the offerings.
The course, called “A Gentle Introduction to Python,” is slated to start mid-October, 2012, with initial enrollment available starting August 21 at http://mechanicalmooc.org.
The Peer 2 Peer University (http://p2pu.org/) is a grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. P2PU creates a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional formal higher education. Leveraging the internet and educational materials openly available online, P2PU enables high-quality low-cost education opportunities. P2PU – learning for everyone, by everyone about almost anything.
OpenStudy (http://openstudy.com/) is a social study network where students can ask questions, give help, collaborate and meet others. Founded by professors and students from Georgia Tech and Emory University, and funded by the National Science Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OpenStudy believes that students can teach other students through collaborative learning. OpenStudy believes in making the world one large study group where students can work together in a single place regardless of their school, country or background.
Codecademy (http://www.codecademy.com/) is the easiest way to learn to code. Since its launch in August of 2011, Codecademy has been used by millions of users in more than 100 countries. Users learn to build websites, create web applications, and to understand the fundamentals of computer science through an innovative, interactive interface. Codecademy is funded by top tier investors like Union Square Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.
About MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT OpenCourseWare (http://ocw.mit.edu) makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,100 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 1.75 million web site visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 125 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.
Peer 2 Peer University