Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MIT launches free online 'fully automated' course

"Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the world's top-rated universities, has announced its first free course which can be studied and assessed completely online.

"An electronics course, beginning in March, will be the first prototype of an online project, known as MITx.
"The interactive course is designed to be fully automated, with successful students receiving a certificate.
"The US university says it wants MITx to "shatter barriers to education".
"This ground-breaking scheme represents a significant step forward in the use of technology to deliver higher education.
"Automated university
"There are already online degree courses, but the MIT proposal is unusual in that it is inviting students anywhere in the world, without charge or prior entrance requirements, to study for a certificate carrying the MIT brand.
"MIT, along with many other leading universities, makes its course material available online, but the MITx scheme takes this a step further by creating an accredited course specifically for online students.
"Study materials and the awarding of grades are all provided online.
"Before Christmas, the Boston-based university announced its intention to create MITx.
"On Monday it set out how this will be put into practice, with the creation of the course 6.002x: Circuits and Electronics, based on the campus-based course of the same name.
"This is not a "watered down" version of the campus course or "any less intense", says a university spokesman.
"The main difference is that the MITx version has been designed for online students, with a virtual laboratory, e-textbooks, online discussions and videos that are the equivalent of a lecture. It is expected to take 10 hours per week and will run until June.
"Anant Agarwal, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who will be one of the course teachers, says it has been "designed to try to keep it engaging".
""There are interactive exercises to see if they've understood," says Prof Agarwal.
"Although there are no formal entry requirements, he says students will need to have a knowledge of maths and science.
"'Honour code'
"In this prototype stage, the online assessment will depend on an "honour code" in which home students will commit to honest behaviour. But in future, the university says, there will be mechanisms for checking identity and verifying work..."

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