New courses from MITx on edX: mobile, probability, poverty

by Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

Collage of four photos of hands on smartphones.

In the upcoming MITx course 21W.789x Building Mobile Experiences, students learn how to build large-scale mobile apps that fit into people’s everyday lives. (Image courtesy of Frank Bentley and Ed Barrett.)

MITx on edX has abundant course offerings in the coming months and a number of these have counterparts on OCW.

Just consider what’s cropping up in early February:

In this course you can learn how to develop a large-scale mobile app that fits into people’s everyday lives. It is co-taught by Frank Bentley, Principal Research Scientist in Mobile Sensing and User Behavior Research at Yahoo Labs in California, and Ed Barrett, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Media Studies and Writing at MIT. The two have developed a process for creating an app in which developers repeatedly meet with users and iteratively test their app solutions.

The MITx course starts on February 2 and is based on one taught on the MIT campus since 2006, 21W.789 Communicating with Mobile Technology, which is represented on OCW in its Spring 2011 version.  Interested parties might check out the OCW course as a preview.

This course, beginning on February 3, teaches probabilistic modeling, including random processes and the basic elements of statistical inference. It was created by MIT Professors John Tsitsiklis and Patrick Jaillet and is running for the second time, now with Professor Dimitri Bertsekas on the teaching team, along with a number of MIT PH.D.s and graduate students.

As Professor Tsitsiklis says on the analogous OCW course, 6.041SC Probabilistic Systems Analysis and Applied Probability, “These days, you cannot understand what is going on around you if you do not understand the uncertainty attached to nearly every phenomenon. This is why probability is now a central component of scientific literacy.” The OCW course has full video lectures, recitation videos, and ample problem sets and other resources.

“Is extreme poverty a thing of the past? What is economic life like when living under a dollar per day? Are the poor always hungry? How do we make schools work for poor citizens?”

These heady questions are posed by Professors Esther Duflo and Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee on the homepage for this course offering, which they taught last year for the first time on edX. The course starts on February 3.

OCW publishes the Spring 2011 version of their on-campus course, 14.73 The Challenge of World Poverty. The OCW course site includes full video lectures, lecture notes, writing advice, and other resources. The instructors’ This Course at MIT page includes an explanation of how they flipped their on-campus classroom by having the students watch the video lectures at home and answer questions online. This approach freed up class time during which student teams prepared and delivered presentations on weekly case studies.

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