The Student Becomes the Teacher (Slate)

Slate recently wrote about Battushig Myanganbayar, who at 15 aced 6.002x, the first MOOC from MIT based on the sophomore level engineering course. As Slate puts it:

Designers of the course touted him as a poster boy for the power of free courses to spread high-quality education to the farthest reaches of the globe, and the New York Times hailed his story. But leaders of edX, the consortium started by MIT and Harvard University to develop free online courses, also did something else: They offered the star student a job, hoping he could make their MOOCs work better for other high schoolers.

As it turns out, edX needed the help. Despite the hope that courses from name-brand universities would draw students from high schools and less-selective colleges, some 70 percent of people taking edX courses already hold a college degree. MOOCs today are primarily serving the education haves, not disadvantaged learners.

“That certainly surprised me,” said Anant Agarwal, the CEO of edX and the instructor of the course Myanganbayar aced. “I expected more people who were in college [and high school],” he added. “We’re looking to change a few things to increase that number.” (Other MOOC providers have seen similar demographic trends, he notes.)

Bringing Myanganbayar in as an employee, though, raised tricky visa issues. But his high school principal in Mongolia, himself an MIT grad, suggested a hack: apply to MIT as a student, then work on MOOCs as a student job.

And that’s exactly what Myanganbayar did. Today, at age 17, he is finishing up his freshman year at MIT, where he has shared his critique of existing MOOCs. Continue reading on Slate.

MOOCs on edX continue to evolve and get better as they learn from students like Battushig and understand how MOOC learners learn. On OCW, we have related courseware for MITx courses to help you study or learn the prerequisite subject matter.

If OCW has helped you prepare for a MOOC, let us know!

One thought on “The Student Becomes the Teacher (Slate)

  1. Battushig, I am so proud of you! I am sure you will make a difference in your job at MIT. A few suggestions…. I think some young students (high school and college) are intimidated by the idea of taking a Physics or Mathematics course at a high level university. Perhaps you could offer a no-risk sample (perhaps 1 week) for the students, to try out the course before they commit to it? Fear of failure is bigger than the advantage of no cost. Second, many students in high school and college only have the time for a course in the summer. Perhaps increasing the promotion and availability of MOOCs during the summer will help. Finally, get high school and college teachers involved. Convince them, and they will introduce MOOCs to the students. I hope this helps! Monica McCann, PhD.


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