MITx launches Education Technology course series

Still image from video demo of an electronic circuit building tool.We must be in a Golden Age of Educational Technology. Teachers can use any of a number of platforms to make learning materials available online, posting videos and animations as well as images and text. Rather than sit back and passively absorb (or just as often, not absorb) information, students can use technology to become active participants in their own education. They can learn by doing. They can attempt interactive problems that offer immediate feedback to see if they are on the right track. They can exchange ideas with each other on discussion forums. They can work on projects in teams that they join online.

It’s amazing and wonderful … and overwhelming. What defines good design of educational technology?  What are the ideas, processes and teams that can be harnessed to create powerful new learning technologies? And how do we create an ecosystem of designers, developers, and educators who can create and implement educational technologies effectively?

Those interested in the enterprise of educational technologies can answer these questions by enrolling in 11.132x Design and Development of Educational Technology, a course taught by Professor Eric Klopfer on the edX platform starting on October 8 and running for six weeks.

This course examines educational technologies, outlines the theories that influenced their development, and examines their use. The course leads up to a final project–a kickstarter style pitch for a new educational technology.  An advocate of active learning, Professor Klopfer likes to practice what he preaches: The course involves active weekly participation by the people taking it.

This course is the first in a series of “EdTechX” courses being developed by the MIT Education Arcade. The series is designed to help you build your understanding of the use and design of technologies for learning.

The second course in the series is 11.126x Introduction to Game Design. It starts on October 22 and runs for six weeks. The course emphasizes the basic tools of game design: paper and digital prototyping, design iteration, and user testing.

The final two courses in the EdTechX series are slated to start in the spring and summer of 2015:

  • 11.127x Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education
  • 11.133x Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology

Students that successfully complete all four courses in the series can obtain a verified edX XSeries Certificate to demonstrate their acheivement.

— Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

The MOOC Has Arrived and Education Will Never be the Same Again

Professor Yossi Sheffi, Director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, wrote about MOOCs on his LinkedIn Influencer blog. With his permission, we’re re-posting his article on Open Matters:

A man wearing headphones and working at a laptop.

Photograph by Erica Kawamoto Hsu on Flickr. License: CC-BY-NC-ND

In 2012 Battushig Myanganbayar became one of 340 students to earn a perfect score in the sophomore-level MIT course Circuits and Electronics, reported the New York Times. What is remarkable about this – aside from the student’s exceptional grade – is that the 15-year-old boy was living in Mongolia at the time and was one of 150,000 students taking the course.

Think about that for a minute. There were 150,000 students from many countries in one class, including this boy who completed the MIT course from his home in Mongolia. His gifts were discovered and Battushig is now a student at MIT.

It’s a feel-good story, but it’s also a story that exemplifies the revolution in education known as the MOOC or Massive Open Online Course.

Yes, this sounds like another one of those acronyms that educators are fond of. But make no mistake, this is not an exercise in academic semantics – MOOCs are ushering in a new age in education.

I have first-hand experience of the power of MOOCs. On September 30, 2014, supply chain education will take a major step into the digital age with the start of SCx, a free on-line educational program developed by the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. Even before we have officially announced the start of this new three-course program to the world, more than 9,000 individuals worldwide have signed up! To find more information on the new program go to:

So, what exactly is a MOOC, and how will the concept impact the way current and future leaders learn the skills they need to succeed?

Let’s tackle the second questions first, because the changes that are now taking place in teaching really put the significance of MOOCs in perspective.

Anyone who has been through a college program is familiar with the time-honored classroom format. The instructor stands at the front and delivers a 90-minute lecture, often with the aid of very detailed PowerPoint slides. Students in multiple tiers of seats take notes and, ideally, pepper the talk with questions.

This method of teaching has a number of serious drawbacks.

  • Student participation tends to be patchy. A rule of thumb is that 80% of the questions asked during a class come from 20% of the students. Some individuals choose not to get the clarification they need because they don’t want to look dumb in front of their peers.
  • The pace is set by the instructor. Even the most seasoned teacher cannot possibly cater for the different learning rates of individual class participants. The result is a compromise; pitching the lecture somewhere in the middle.
  • Learning is impaired by delays in receiving feedback. By the time problems or papers are set and posted by the instructor, completed and submitted by students, and graded, the class has moved on to totally new topics.
  • Attention spans are short and shrinking. Typically, student attentiveness starts to drop off about 15 minutes into a class. Since lectures are often 90 minutes in duration, this means that the instructor has the class’s full attention initially, but not when she gets to the meat of her talk.

These problems are well known, yet class formats have remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years. One of the main reasons is that educators tend to address the wrong question. Instead of questioning how they teach, the much more pertinent question is to understand how students learn.

One approach that several professors at MIT and elsewhere have introduced to their classes is to chop lectures into shorter, self-contained segments, of, say 30 minutes in duration. Each segment completes the full explain/practice/feedback learning cycle within a short time period.

This is a step in the right direction, but structuring a class in this way is extremely time-consuming as all lectures need to be reconfigured. Also, the apparent pace of the class seems to slow down as “practice” sessions are added to the in-class portion of course. Actually, this is more of a reflection of the “pace of teaching” better matching the underlying “pace of learning” by students.

Enter the MOOC.

MOOCs are taught in an online environment. This is not a new idea – MIT has offered online courses for many years through its OpenCourseWare – but the new model is designed specifically to overcome the problems that plague traditional classrooms, and takes advantage of the latest social media tools.

A MOOC is interactive, and presents material in short segments. Students learn at their own pace, receive feedback quickly, and develop virtual networks for learning from each other.

MIT has created an initiative (MITx) to create MOOCs in a wide variety of disciplines. Working in collaboration with a number of other leading educational institutions, MIT has also launched edX, a platform for offering a wide range of MOOCs from various universities. The online classrooms can reach huge numbers of students. As mentioned, about 150,000 individuals enrolled in the Circuits and Electronics course, one of the first MOOCs launched by MIT. Some 7,000 successfully completed all of the required work and gained certification. While this is a small fraction of the original enrollment, it represents almost 100 years worth of in-resident students who typically take the traditional in-residence course at MIT!

MOOCs require a lot of backroom work to create the courses that are then broadcast virtually to students worldwide. But the pay offs in terms of more effective education with a global reach can be vast.

We are only at the beginning of this revolution. The potential for broadening our educational reach is staggering. Who knows how many young people like Battushig Myanganbayar will reach their true potential thanks to MOOCs.

Learn Supply Chain Management with MITx and OCW

Graphic depicting the concept of a supply chain.You have a new product, smartly designed and rigorously tested. Now you need to get it to market.

You might manufacture it overseas to save money, as long as shipping costs are low enough. But what if the product takes off, and there’s a sudden surge in demand? Will you be able to manufacture and ship products fast enough to fill orders halfway across the world? Maybe you should manufacture the product closer to home. If you do, how much inventory should you carry? After all, warehousing can be expensive too . . .

So many questions! What’s a smart businessperson to do?

Why not register for CTL.SC1x — Supply Chain and Logistics Fundamentals, an MITx course on the edX platform starting on September 30? This course covers the fundamental analytic tools, approaches and techniques used in the design and operation of logistics systems and integrated supply chains. You can learn about:

  • demand forecasting, planning, and management
  • inventory planning, management, and control
  • transportation planning, management, and execution

The course is the first of three courses on supply chain and logistics being offered by MITx. The second course, planned for spring 2015, is CTL.SC2x – Supply Chain Design. It will be followed in summer 2015 by CTL.SC3x – Supply Chain Strategy.

Students who complete the three-course sequence can get a Supply Chain Management XSeries certificate confirming their achievement.

“We have designed each of the three courses to cover the breadth of supply chain management rather than focus on just one function at a time.  This is a more integrated approach,” says the instructor, Dr. Chris Caplice, Executive Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL).

And you don’t have to wait until September 30 to start learning. With OCW, you can preview some of the topics in this first MITx course with Dr. Caplice’s course ESD.260J Logistics Systems; or check out any of the seventeen supply chain management courses in OCW.

GEMS Education becomes first K-12 education provider to partner with pioneering online learning organisation edX (GEMS Press Release)

Dubai, UAE, 16 March 2014: GEMS Education, the leading K-12 Education provider, has partnered with edX to provide courses aimed at pre-university students. GEMS will be the first K-12 education provider to team up with the groundbreaking educational consortium. GEMS Education will create courses on the platform specifically aimed at pre- university students, who currently make up 5% of edX’s 2 million users around the world. edX is a joint initiative of Harvard and MIT Universities, founded in spring 2012. The not-for-profit consortium is the most prominent among numerous platforms offering Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCS, which significantly boost access to top-quality education around the world.

The first GEMS courses will appear on the platform in the second half of 2014. GEMS will use the partnership as its most significant foray into the online learning space and the current ‘MOOC’ phenomenon.

GEMS Education will also be the first organization from the United Arab Emirates to partner with edX.

“GEMS has a long history of always looking to be at the cutting edge of education. EdX is at the forefront of the current disruption to traditional learning, and we are excited to build a long term partnership and pioneer K-12 education on the edX platform” said Marc Boxser, GEMS Group Director of External Relations & Strategic Initiatives.

Dino Varkey, Group Chief Operating Officer and Board Member said, “edX has shown how to provide education from some of the world’s greatest institutions available to anyone in the world. This partnership is a natural synergy with GEMS’ mission to put a quality education within reach of every child.”

Anant Agarwal, President of edX said “Our recent new membership structure has opened to a wider pool of quality course providers, to meet the demand from our global learners for greater diversity and richness in our course offerings. With GEMS, an institution with expertise and global reach in K-12 education, we have an exciting opportunity to offer on our platform courses specifically designed for younger students.”

The partnership was announced at the 2nd annual Global Education & Skills Forum held in Dubai. Read more.

Upcoming conference puts supply chain management in broad context (MIT News)

Upcoming conference puts supply chain management in broad context
Host Yossi Sheffi thinks supply chains change, and are changed by, the world.
Chuck Leddy, MIT News correspondent

When asked if supply chain management (SCM) is simply moving stuff around quickly and cheaply, Yossi Sheffi, the Elisha Gray II Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT, smiles and poses his own question: “Are you crazy? It’s life. Everything you buy depends upon it.” Supply chains also create millions of jobs globally and “at salaries about equal to manufacturing jobs,” says Sheffi, director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL). And supply chains are relied upon to save lives during natural disasters.

“Look at Haiti,” Sheffi says, speaking of the devastating 2010 earthquake. “The whole world was willing to contribute aid, but you had one small airport that could handle one plane at a time. How do you manage getting the right stuff to the people who need it most? How do you make an impact and sustain it?” It’s maddeningly complex, he says, not just in terms of technology but in coordinating decision-making. “That’s what humanitarian logistics is all about: communicating, coordinating, optimizing, and much more.”

Sheffi emphasizes that the possibility of disruption to global supply chains is ever-present, as is the challenge of making supply chains resilient enough to recover from disruption. “How do you prepare a continuously changing, worldwide system to be continuously robust in the face of change? Risks are constantly growing because of climate change and political unrest and more,” he says. “Supply chains are impacted all the time and the challenges are new all the time. That’s what makes SCM so exciting from a research perspective, because so many different things affect it.”

On March 25, MIT CTL will host the 10th annual Crossroads conference, which gathers global supply chain professionals and some of MIT’s leading faculty for what Sheffi calls “a showcase” of a broad range of research that bears on SCM. “This year, Crossroads brings news from the MIT laboratories to our attendees,” Sheffi explains, “allowing them to think about and discuss how developments from the lab will impact SCM.” The disciplines showcased at Crossroads 2014, Sheffi says, range from robotics to MOOCs [massive open online courses] to manufacturing and “big data.”

That breadth is deliberate. “We hear a lot from companies about the shortage of SCM talent,” Sheffi says, “and MOOCs can be one way to train more people. And in terms of manufacturing, as more of it moves back to the U.S., we need to rethink investments — where to put warehouses and rail systems.” As for big data, Sheffi notes that “supply chains create a tremendous amount of data, and new tools allow us to better analyze what people are buying, when they’re buying, etc., and then use all this data to make fast changes according to consumer behavior.” The conference is meant to give SCM professionals an improved understanding of the big picture. Read more.

Interested in Supply Chain Management but not able to make the conference?  Keep an eye out for more information here on Open Matters and on the edX site about the Supply Chain Management XSeries (scroll down on this page), a series of MOOCs on SCM, which kicks off this fall.  It’s being developed by MIT CTL.

MITx course 6.00.1x Intro to Comp Sci and Programming Using Python now open for registration

The spring offering of 6.00.1x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python, the first course in the Foundations of Computer Science XSeries, is now open for registration on the edX site.

About this Course

This course is the first of a two-course sequence: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python, and Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science. Together, they are designed to help people with no prior exposure to computer science or programming learn to think computationally and write programs to tackle useful problems. Some of the people taking the two courses will use them as a stepping stone to more advanced computer science courses, but for many it will be their first and last computer science courses.

Since these courses may be the only formal computer science courses many of the students take, we have chosen to focus on breadth rather than depth. The goal is to provide students with a brief introduction to many topics so they will have an idea of what is possible when they need to think about how to use computation to accomplish some goal later in their career. That said, they are not “computation appreciation” courses. They are challenging and rigorous courses in which the students spend a lot of time and effort learning to bend the computer to their will.

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python covers the notion of computation, the Python programming language, some simple algorithms, testing and debugging, and informal introduction to algorithmic complexity, and some simple algorithms and data structures.

The Foundations of Computer Science XSeries

The Foundations of Computer Science XSeries, offered by the M.I.T. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is a sequence of courses that introduce key concepts of computer science and computational thinking. Students apply these concepts and build their engineering skills by completing software and hardware design problems. Additionally, students test their understanding by taking a series of exams.

This XSeries consists of 7 courses:

  • 6.00.1x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python | Q4 2013, Q2 2014 ($50)
  • 6.00.2x Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science | Q2 2014 ($50)
  • 6.00.3x Software Construction in Java 1 | Q4 2014 ($50)
  • 6.00.4x Software Construction in Java 2 | Q2 2015 ($50)
  • 6.00.5x Computation Structures: Digital Circuits | Q4 2014 ($50)
  • 6.00.6x Computation Structures: Programmable Architectures | Q2 2015 ($50)
  • 6.00.7x Computation Structures: Computer Systems Organization | Q4 2015 ($50)

Cost for this program also includes a $75 program fee, due at issuance of the final XSeries certificate. Total cost for the complete program is $425.00. Please note that component courses for this XSeries may be taken individually. Students who have successfully completed 6.00x prior to Fall 2013 may use the course to replace 6.00.1x and 6.00.2x without cost.

MITx announces new Aerodynamics XSeries certificate, pricing for XSeries programs

XSeries programs to be priced at $50.00 to $100.00 per course

CAMBRIDGE, MA, November 21, 2013 –  MITx, the massive open online course (MOOC) program at MIT, is announcing its third XSeries program, Aerodynamics. XSeries programs offer recognition for completion of a series of related MOOCs. In September, MITx announced the first two XSeries programs, Fundamentals of Computer Science and Supply Chain Management.

The new Aerodynamics XSeries includes two courses: 16.101x Introduction to Aerodynamics, which is currently running on the edX site, and 16.110x Flight Vehicle Aerodynamics, which will begin in early 2014.   Students currently enrolled in 16.101x who successfully complete the course will be able to apply it toward an XSeries certificate at no charge.

“This XSeries combines the fundamental principles of fluid mechanics with the modeling concepts and techniques used in aerodynamic analysis and design of modern aircraft,” says 16.110x instructor Professor Mark Drela in describing the program. “It gives the students a solid grounding in the discipline of aerodynamics, and provides the skills they need to apply that knowledge.”

The Aerodynamics XSeries takes students from the fundamentals of fluid mechanics to their application in aerodynamics. Students gain a conceptual understanding of critical fluid dynamic phenomena from boundary layers to shock waves, and develop a firm foundation in the aerodynamic methods used to analyze and design modern aircraft.  The concepts learned are relevant to other areas including wind turbines, hydrodynamics, and even bird flight.  The XSeries is appropriate for students with a solid background in mechanics, vector calculus, and differential equations.

XSeries pricing announced

MITx is also announcing pricing for XSeries courses, which will be $50.00 for short courses such as the components of the Fundamentals of Computer Science XSeries and $100.00 for longer courses, such as those in the Aeronautics XSeries.  All courses have a free audit option and the course fees cover identity verification and support MITx and edX sustainability.  The same pricing structure will be used for standalone MITx courses that offer identity verification as well.

Other XSeries offerings

The previously announced XSeries program Fundamentals of Computer Science began last in September with 6.00.1x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python, which was offered without ID verification or fees.  Students successfully completing this course will be permitted to apply the course to the XSeries certificate at no cost.  Students who successfully completed the MITx course 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming prior to December 31, 2013, will also be permitted to apply this course to the Fundamentals of Computer Science XSeries certificate at no cost, replacing 6.00.1x and 6.00.2x.  The second course in the Fundamentals of Computer Science XSeries, 6.00.2x Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science, will be offered in early 2014.

The previously announced Supply Chain Management XSeries will offer the first of three modules, SCx1 Supply Chain and Logistics Fundamentals, in fall 2014. The remaining two modules, SCx2 Design of Supply Chain Systems and SCx3 Supply Chain Strategy, will be offered in spring and summer 2015 respectively.  For more information about MIT’s XSeries offerings, please visit:

About MITx

The MITx program supports MIT’s exploration of teaching approaches enabled by digital technologies, both on the MIT campus and through scalable online courses on the edX platform.  MITx is a constituent organization of MIT’s new Office of Digital Learning, under the leadership of the Director of Digital Learning, Professor Sanjay Sarma.

About edX

EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise composed of 30 leading global institutions, the xConsortium. Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX is focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research on an open source platform. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX is focused on people, not profit, and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.

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