Fantastical New Advancements

Web network technology

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Welina Farah, MIT Open Learning

The capacity to do what was once only “in the movies” has transformed conversations. Instead of asking “Is this possible?” we are now asking, “When will this be possible?” The perception of ability, the bandwidth of feasibility… New technologies are emerging faster than one can say “Beam me up, Scotty.”

Calestous Juma, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, explores resistance towards new technology in his latest book, “Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies.” Juma says that much of the reluctance toward these new technologies comes from supporters of the previous product or way of doing things: “The biggest lesson from the past is if a new technology has superior properties, overwhelmingly superior to its predecessors, chances are that technology will get adopted no matter what.”

Fortunately, hot topics like artificial intelligence, robotics, and blockchain are woven throughout MIT and shared with you in many OCW courses. Below are a few that highlight the technical foundations and real world applications for a few of these fantastical new advancements.

6.034 Artificial Intelligence – This course introduces students to the basic knowledge representation, problem solving, and learning methods of artificial intelligence. With complete lecture videos and other resources, you’ll learn how Upon completion of 6.034, students should be able to develop intelligent systems by assembling solutions to concrete computational problems; understand the role of knowledge representation, problem solving, and learning in intelligent-system engineering; and appreciate the role of problem solving, vision, and language in understanding human intelligence from a computational perspective.

16.412J Cognitive Robotics – This is a class about applying autonomy to real-world systems. The overarching theme uniting the many different topics in this course will center around programming a cognitive robotic. This class takes the approach of introducing new reasoning techniques and ideas incrementally. We start with the current paradigm of programming you’re likely familiar with, and evolve it over the semester—continually adding in new features and reasoning capabilities—ending with a robust, intelligent system. These techniques and topics will include algorithms for allowing a robot to: Monitor itself for potential problems (both observable and hidden), scheduling tasks in time, coming up with novel plans to achieve desired goals over time, dealing with the continuous world, collaborating with other (autonomous) agents, dealing with risk, and more.

MAS.S62 Cryptocurrency Engineering and DesignBitcoin and other cryptographic currencies have gained attention over the years as the systems continue to evolve. This course looks at the design of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and how they function in practice, focusing on cryptography, game theory, and network architecture.

15.395 Entrepreneurship Without BordersThis course examines the opportunities and problems for entrepreneurs globally, including Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Linkages between the business environment, the institutional framework, and new venture creation are covered with a special focus on blockchain technology. In addition to discussing a range of global entrepreneurial situations, student groups pick one particular cluster on which to focus and to understand what further development would entail. Classroom interactions are based primarily on case studies.

How You Can Make Almost Anything

MIT poster for makers

Poster for MIT Project Manus, charged to create the gold standard in next generation academic makersystems.

Teaching and learning can take place beyond the traditional classroom, sitting at desks, giving or listening to lectures and doing paper assignments. MIT students and faculty know that some of the most important learning comes from doing stuff with your hands, designing and building things in the real world.

The growth of a vibrant “maker” culture is the MIT motto mens et manus (mind and hand) in action. Use these OCW courses to inspire your own hands-on explorations.

From building a printing press to building your own camera or wearables, OCW offers quite a few courses to help you hone your skills and engineering know-how. What will you make today?

Girls Who Build Cameras

The Girls Who Build Cameras workshop for high school girls is a one-day, hands-on introduction to camera physics and technology (i.e. how Instagram works!) at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Beaverworks Center. The workshop includes tearing down old dSLR cameras, building a Raspberry Pi camera, and designing Instagram filters and Photoshop tools. Participants also get to listen to keynote speakers from the camera technology industry, including Kris Clark who engineers space cameras for NASA and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and Uyanga Tsedev who creates imaging probes to help surgeons find tumors at MIT. During lunch, representatives from the Society of Women Engineers and the Women’s Technology Program at MIT will present future opportunities to get involved in engineering in high school and college.

CMS.608 Game Design

This course is built around practical instruction in the design and analysis of non-­digital games. It provides students the texts, tools, references, and historical context to analyze and compare game designs across a variety of genres. In teams, students design, develop, and thoroughly test their original games to better understand the interaction and evolution of game rules. Covers various genres and types of games, including sports, game shows, games of chance, card games, schoolyard games, board games, and role-­playing games.

21H.343J / CC.120J Making Books: The Renaissance and Today

This course explores the impact of new technology on the recording and distribution of words and images at three different times: The invention of the printing press ca. 1450; the adaptation of electricity to communication technology in the 19th century (telegraph, telephone, phonograph); and the emergence of digital media today. Assignments include essays and online projects. Students also participate in the design and construction of a hand-set printing press.

Collaborative Design and Creative Expression with Arduino Microcontrollers

This is a 9-day hands-on workshop about collaboration, design, and electronics prototyping. No previous experience with computer programming or electronics is required. Beginning students will be taught everything they need to know and advanced students will be challenged to learn new skills. Participants will learn about microcontroller programming using Arduino, collaborative software development using GitHub, solderless electronics prototyping, electronic sensors, rapid prototyping, and small team management.

Learn to Build Your Own Videogame with the Unity Game Engine and Microsoft Kinect

This is a 9-day hands-on workshop about designing, building, and publishing simple educational videogames. No previous experience with computer programming or videogame design is required; beginning students will be taught everything they need to know and advanced students will be challenged to learn new skills. Participants will learn about videogame creation using the Unity game engine, collaborative software development using GitHub, gesture handling using the Microsoft Kinect, 3D digital object creation, videogame design, and small team management.

Girls Who Build: Make Your Own Wearables Workshop

The Girls Who Build: Make Your Own Wearables workshop for high school girls is an introduction to computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering through wearable technology. The workshop, developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, consists of two major hands-on projects in manufacturing and wearable electronics. These include 3D printing jewelry and laser cutting a purse, as well as programming LEDs to light up when walking. Participants learn the design process, 3D computer modeling, and machine shop tools, in addition to writing code and building a circuit.

22.S902 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Geiger Counters

This experimental one-week course is a freshman-accessible hands-on introduction to Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. Students build and test their own Geiger Counter, and so doing, they explore different types and sources of radiation, how to detect them, how to shield them, how to accurately count / measure their activity, and explore cryptographical applications of radiation. This course is meant to be enjoyable and rigorous at the same time.

16.810 Engineering Design and Rapid Prototyping

This course provides students with an opportunity to conceive, design and implement a product, using rapid prototyping methods and computer-aid tools. The first of two phases challenges each student team to meet a set of design requirements and constraints for a structural component. A course of iteration, fabrication, and validation completes this manual design cycle. During the second phase, each team conducts design optimization using structural analysis software, with their phase one prototype as a baseline.

20.219 Becoming the Next Bill Nye: Writing and Hosting the Educational Show

Becoming the Next Bill Nye is about using video production techniques to develop your ability to engagingly convey your passions for science, technology, engineering, and / or math. You’ll have the opportunity to script and on-screen host 5-minute YouTube science, technology, engineering, and / or math-related shows to inspire youth to consider a future in science.

2.007 Design and Manufacturing I

This course is a first subject in engineering design. This course will expose you to interesting material, challenging you to think deeply, and providing skills useful in professional practice. A major element of the course is design of a robot to participate in a challenge that changes from year to year. From its beginnings in 1970, the 2.007 final project competition has grown into an Olympics of engineering. This year, the theme is cleaning up the planet as inspired by the movie Wall-E.


IAP: A Fusion of Fun and Learning at MIT

A Texas Hold’em game from a player’s point of view. (Courtesy of Peter Hopper on Flickr. License CC BY-NC.)

Every January, MIT students, faculty, and staff come together and design a special learning experience. Infused with creativity, inventiveness and fun, the four week term, known as Independent Activities Period (IAP), gives rise to some of the most ingenious courses that aren’t all part of the MIT curriculum.

From beekeeping to Japanese archery and computational law to academic resilience storytelling, the variety of workshops and sessions are created and organized by MIT members passionate about their subject area.

On OCW, there are more than 100 IAP courses that are available for you to work through at your own pace. The following are a sample of IAP courses, but you can find all of the IAP courses on OCW.

15.S50 Poker Theory and Analytics

This course takes a broad-based look at poker theory and applications of poker analytics to investment management and trading.

This course is offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week term at MIT in January. IAP provides members of the MIT community including students, faculty, staff, and alums with an opportunity to organize, sponsor and participate in a wide variety of activities and topics that are often outside of the regular MIT curriculum.

18.S097 Applied Category Theory

Category theory is a relatively new branch of mathematics that has transformed much of pure math research. The technical advance is that category theory provides a framework in which to organize formal systems and by which to translate between them, allowing one to transfer knowledge from one field to another. But this same organizational framework also has many compelling examples outside of pure math. In this course, we will give seven sketches on real-world applications of category theory.

6.S095 Programming for the Puzzled

This class builds a bridge between the recreational world of algorithmic puzzles (puzzles that can be solved by algorithms) and the pragmatic world of computer programming, teaching students to program while solving puzzles. Python syntax and semantics required to understand the code are explained as needed for each puzzle.

6.057 Introduction to MATLAB

This is an accelerated introduction to MATLAB® and its popular toolboxes. Lectures are interactive, with students conducting sample MATLAB problems in real time. The course includes problem-based MATLAB assignments. Students must provide their own laptop and software. This is great preparation for classes that use MATLAB.

21W.794 Graduate Technical Writing Workshop

This course is designed to improve the student’s ability to communicate technical information. It covers the basics of working with sources, including summarizing and paraphrasing, synthesizing source materials, citing, quoting, and avoiding plagiarism. It also covers how to write an abstract and a literature review. In addition, we will cover communication concepts, tools, and strategies that can help you understand how engineering texts work, and how you can make your texts work more effectively.

Learn to Build Your Own Videogame with the Unity Game Engine and Microsoft Kinect

This is a 9-day hands-on workshop about designing, building, and publishing simple educational videogames. No previous experience with computer programming or videogame design is required; beginning students will be taught everything they need to know and advanced students will be challenged to learn new skills. Participants will learn about videogame creation using the Unity game engine, collaborative software development using GitHub, gesture handling using the Microsoft Kinect, 3D digital object creation, videogame design, and small team management.

Climate Action Hands-On: Harnessing Science with Communities to Cut Carbon

This course explores how citizen science can support community actions to combat climate change. Participants will learn about framing problems, design ways to gather data, gather some of their own field data, and consider how the results can enable action. Leaks in the natural gas system—a major source of methane emissions, and a powerful contributor to climate change—will be a particular focus.

Understanding the past to prepare for the future

Image of antique map

Leo Belgicus by Petrus Kaerius (Pieter van den Keere), 1617. (This image is in the public domain.)

OCW covers 17 MIT special subject areas in History

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “I believe that the more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.”

At MIT, the study of History teaches different ways to think critically about the past, present and future of the world. Students develop a rich, empathetic understanding of the people, events, and circumstances that ultimately prepares them to be active members of their local communities and an increasingly global society today.

Tailored to put the modern world in historical perspective, MIT History subjects explore the social, cultural, economic, and political transformations that shape the present.

On OCW, you can browse lists of courses on 17 History subtopics:

African History
American History
Ancient History
Asian History
Comparative History
European History
Historical Methods
History of Science and Technology
Intellectual History
Jewish History
Latin American History
Medieval History
Middle Eastern History
Military History
Modern History
World History

OCW has recently published these history courses:

21H.102 American History Since 1865, Spring 2018
This course examines the social, cultural, political, and economic history of the United States, from the Civil War to the present. It uses secondary analysis and primary documents, such as court cases, personal accounts, photographs, and films, to examine some of the key issues in the shaping of modern America, including industrialization and urbanization, immigration, the rise of a mass consumer society, the emergence of the US as a global power, and the development of civil rights activism and other major social movements.

21H.132 The Ancient World: Rome, Spring 2017
This course covers the history of Rome from its humble beginnings to the 5th century A.D. The first half covers Kingship to Republican form; the conquest of Italy; Roman expansion: Pyrrhus, Punic Wars and provinces; classes, courts, and the Roman revolution; Augustus and the formation of empire. The second half covers Virgil to the Vandals; major social, economic, political and religious trends at Rome and in the provinces. There is an emphasis on the use of primary sources in translation.

21H.357 South Asian Migrations, Spring 2018
This course provides a global history of South Asians and introduces students to the cultural, social, economic, and political experiences of immigrants who traveled across the world. It studies how and why South Asians, who have migrated to America, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, are considered a model minority in some countries and unwanted strangers in others. Through literature, memoirs, films, music, and historical writing, it follows South Asian migrants as they discovered the world beyond India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

21H.155 Modern Japan: 1868 to Present, Spring 2017
This course surveys Japanese history from the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603 to the present and explores the local and global nature of modernity in Japan. It highlights key themes, including the emergence of a modern nation-state, the rise and fall of the Japanese Empire, the development of mass consumer culture and the middle class, and the continued importance of historical memory in Japan today.

>Peruse all History courses on OCW

OCW YouTube Subscribers: Because you mean so much to us.

Dear YouTube Subscriber,

We ♥️ you! Thank you for hitting our subscribe button. You are an amazing community of learners.

Passionate, opinionated, grateful, and inspirational, you watch and learn and become experts of your own knowledge. You are fiercely loyal and ‘get’ that sharing makes us better for one another and for the world.

You mean so much to us. Let us count the ways:

  1. You really watch our videos! You’ve watched them more than 187 million times!
  2. You discover us and want to learn more. More than 3 million of you have dived into our resources.
  3. You ♥️ us more than you troll us.
  4. You helped make us the #1 channel.
  5. You tell us how we’ve changed your lives.
  6. You have some of the most interesting handles.
  7. You make us want to be better.
  8. You share us with your friends and family.
  9. You inspire us.
  10. You show how learning can happen along side great entertainment videos.

Thank you for being an incredible community and a strong force for learning.


The MIT OpenCourseWare Team


Bridging the digital divide

Students learning to use eTekkatho at Taungoo University

Duyen Nguyen | MIT Open Learning

Myanmar’s education landscape is changing, thanks in large part to the efforts of the  Tekkatho Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that uses digital technologies to bring world-class educational resources to local institutions and communities. Supported by a grant from the Omidyar Network, Tekkatho sets up free, self-contained digital libraries—eTekkatho—and other education infrastructure across the country, making access to materials like MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) possible even in places with little to no connectivity.

eTekkatho is able to include OCW content among its many resources through OCW’s Mirror Site Program, which delivers free copies of the OCW website to over 400 non-profit educational organizations working in under-resourced parts of the world, for installation on their local networks. Currently set up in 23 universities and six community libraries across the country, eTekkatho’s impact on learners in Myanmar has been remarkable. Over 10,000 people—from students to educators—have attended an eTekkatho training course, where they learn how to access, browse, and download educational and research materials. With thousands of resources now at their fingertips, students grow confident in taking the initiative in their education, becoming proficient in self-study and independent learning. As of 2017, over 100,000 individual ebooks, video lessons, datasets, lectures, and other educational content have been downloaded from eTekkatho library.

OCW is one of the most popular resources that eTekkatho provides. At Phaung Daw Oo, a monastery school in Mandalay that offers free education to over 7,000 children, students like Kyaw Win Khant turn to the eTekkatho digital library to research their assignments, develop their IT skills, and prepare for college and work. “Of course I use eTekkatho! It’s really useful for my studies,” says Kyaw, who was motivated to study chemistry after finding resources on the subject through the digital library. Through watching OCW lectures, Kyaw says he also improved…

>Read the complete story on OCW

Study Aids for Students Taking the Joint Entrance Exam

Instructor writing on a light board

Ankur Gupta solves mathematics problems at the light board.

By Welina Farah, MIT Open Learning

This month, students across India are prepping for the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), a two-part rigorous and thorough national-level standardized test for future engineers.

Twice a year, these test takers hope to do well enough to be accepted into top-tier undergraduate engineering programs at elite institutes across India. These institutes include the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), National Institutes of Technology (NIT), Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), and various other Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) across the country.

The first round of exams (JEE Main) took place from April 7 to April 12, 2019. Students that passed the first round move on to the second round, (JEE Advanced) taking place on May 27, 2019.

At OpenCourseWare, we have two resources available for those studying for the JEE: a series of videos on the “Highlights for High School” website titled “IIT Joint Entrance Exam Preparation” and a quick blurb on the exams themselves.

These videos came to the OCW page in a great way, stemming from “somebody who knew somebody” and blooming into a much-used and vital resource.

The Senior Educational Technology Consultant at MITx Residential built a lightboard (also known as a learning board). At the time, the technology consultant was helping then-grad student Ankur Gupta to use the lightboard to make the videos, as you may have guessed, hosted on the OCW site.

Gupta decided to continue making these videos as a side project.

There are many more videos on their YouTube page, but putting them on OCW’s YouTube page helped amplify their efforts.

The 9 videos hosted by OCW and created by Gupta have been viewed over 66,000 times.

> Check out the “IIT Joint Entrance Exam Preparation” videos