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M.I.T. Expands Its Free Online Courses

#1 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2011-December-20, 05:39

From story in today's paper:

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M.I.T. will announce a new program on Monday allowing anyone anywhere to take M.I.T. courses online free of charge — and for the first time earn official certificates for demonstrating mastery of the subjects taught.


I'm working my way through one of their IT courses now. Good stuff.
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#2 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2011-December-21, 01:11

But do you get a Brass Rat when you're done?

#3 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2011-December-25, 10:44

View Posty66, on 2011-December-20, 05:39, said:

From story in today's paper:



I'm working my way through one of their IT courses now. Good stuff.


they started that a few years ago, some interesting calculus and linear algebra classes by noted professors
people should be able to earn credits by taking exams

i think some of the for-profit schools are ripoffs tho, very few graduate but drop thousands of dollars there with uncertain results

View PostFree, on 2011-May-10, 03:57, said:

Babalu just wanted a shoulder to cry on, is that too much to ask for?
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#4 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2011-December-25, 20:02

View Postbabalu1997, on 2011-December-25, 10:44, said:

they started that a few years ago, some interesting calculus and linear algebra classes by noted professors

i think some of the for-profit schools are ripoffs tho, very few graduate but drop thousands of dollars there with uncertain results


I have tried to find MIT's graduation rate online; it appears to be somewhere around 90%. This is not wonderful, but it is not "very few".
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#5 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2011-December-26, 00:34

View PostVampyr, on 2011-December-25, 20:02, said:

I have tried to find MIT's graduation rate online; it appears to be somewhere around 90%. This is not wonderful, but it is not "very few".

I looked up a bunch of school at collegeresults.org, and MIT seems to be comparable to most other private universities. Then I looked up state universities, they're far lower (40-60%). And according to http://www.quickande...y-the-same.html the national average is about 63%.

#6 User is offline   JLOGIC 

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Posted 2011-December-26, 04:30

What a surprise
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#7 User is online   hrothgar 

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Posted 2011-December-26, 05:46

View Postbabalu1997, on 2011-December-25, 10:44, said:

they started that a few years ago, some interesting calculus and linear algebra classes by noted professors
people should be able to earn credits by taking exams

i think some of the for-profit schools are ripoffs tho, very few graduate but drop thousands of dollars there with uncertain results


It might be useful to clarify what the MIT Online courses are / are not
(Short form, this is completely different than online universities like University of Phoenix)

Many professors at MIT are posting a combination of

1. Syllabi
2. Videos of their lectures
3. Copies of their lecture notes and homework assignments

All of this is available for free download...

The purpose is to allow anyone, anywhere in the world, to benefit from this set of information. These offerings are, by no means a perfect substitute for the MIT experience.

  • I don't think videos can ever replace questions and answers with a real professor.
  • I think it requires enormously more motivation to plow through an entire semester of linear algebra without fear of failing out


With this said and done, if your primary goal is knowledge for its own sake, this is a wonderful, wonderful resource.

Here's what the program is not:

This is not a degree granting program
You don't get any kind of degree that claims that you have completed / achieved anything

FWIW, trying to evaluate this program based on a metric like "graduation rate" is nonsensical...
Alderaan delenda est
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#8 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2011-December-26, 09:18

View Posthrothgar, on 2011-December-26, 05:46, said:

It might be useful to clarify what the MIT Online courses are / are not
(Short form, this is completely different than online universities like University of Phoenix)

Many professors at MIT are posting a combination of

1. Syllabi
2. Videos of their lectures
3. Copies of their lecture notes and homework assignments

All of this is available for free download...

The purpose is to allow anyone, anywhere in the world, to benefit from this set of information. These offerings are, by no means a perfect substitute for the MIT experience.

  • I don't think videos can ever replace questions and answers with a real professor.
  • I think it requires enormously more motivation to plow through an entire semester of linear algebra without fear of failing out


With this said and done, if your primary goal is knowledge for its own sake, this is a wonderful, wonderful resource.

Here's what the program is not:

This is not a degree granting program
You don't get any kind of degree that claims that you have completed / achieved anything

FWIW, trying to evaluate this program based on a metric like "graduation rate" is nonsensical...


i guess i did not make myself clear

mit is not a for-profit online school, i meant something like capella or itt, where few graduate and, some who do find themselves in debt and unemployable.

those offerings there are very interesting because of their "copyleft" philosophy, where anyone can learn, tho no degree is awarded, the cost being restricted to the expenses you have to maintain a computer and internet (well here in the boondocks public access to the net is nil for all effects and purposes)

there is a website where some noted professors donate their textbooks for all to use for free

i also admire the philosophy of dover publications, to offer quality books at low cost

college textbooks nowadays mostly regurgitate materials long in the public domain and issue new editions every year, and these sell with ancillary materials that the student hardly uses at hundreds of dollars and cannot never even sell as used book because the new edition is out. now, that, is a travesty

View PostFree, on 2011-May-10, 03:57, said:

Babalu just wanted a shoulder to cry on, is that too much to ask for?
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#9 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2011-December-26, 23:22

I had looked at the math offerings some years back, and I see that now they have come a long way.

Following Richard's comment about Linear Algebra, I took a look at the Spring 2010 final at MIT. Some comments:

1. It's very impressive!

2. Here at Maryland, we would not expect our (typical) undergraduate engineers to master Linear Algebra at that level. Our math majors who are planning on graduate school would be encouraged to take a Linear Algebra class at about that level, but not with exactly that content (tastes vary, what else is new).

3. I watched one of the videos on eigenvalues. It's well done, but I would be surprised if a guy off in the boonies studying on his own could make all that much of it. Of course some could, but the ones who could might well be already at MIT.

4. In some fundamental sense, this is a great contribution. Exactly how it will work and for whom, I am not prepared to say. But without a doubt having an online resource demonstrating the content of a course from Gil Strang at MIT on Linear Algebra is a very good thing.


Afterthought: It occurs to me that the following might happen: Joe took LA some years back, hasn't much used it, needs it now. "Eigenvalues? Yeah, I knew that once. Maybe I should look on the MIT site for some help." Might work quite well.
Ken
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#10 User is offline   Mbodell 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 00:39

View Postbarmar, on 2011-December-26, 00:34, said:

I looked up a bunch of school at collegeresults.org, and MIT seems to be comparable to most other private universities. Then I looked up state universities, they're far lower (40-60%). And according to http://www.quickande...y-the-same.html the national average is about 63%.


I imagine that the private for profit that really don't graduate as many are the university of pheonix and other sort that advertise on TV (get a degree from your own home!) etc.
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#11 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 20:43

During the Vietnam years you could send someone fifty bucks and become a minister, which maybe got you out of the draft or maybe it didn't. In today's world, it's certification for jobs that is for sale. I would advise a person to do some careful checking before signing up for online degrees, and I hope there will be some careful assessment by employers as to what, if anything, can be expected from a holder of such a degree. Some good, some bad, I imagine. Actually I have seen some if it up close by helping some folks who are/were pursuing their degrees. Not all degrees are created equal.

BUT: I see the MIT online program as being an antidote to some of this questionable certificate selling. It's real stuff. It may or may not be a viable approach for a given person, but it's definitely real stuff.
Ken
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#12 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2012-January-22, 22:18

Excerpt from What You (Really) Need to Know by Larry Summers.

Quote

... it makes sense for students to watch video of the clearest calculus teacher or the most lucid analyst of the Revolutionary War rather than having thousands of separate efforts. Professors will have more time for direct discussion with students — not to mention the cost savings — and material will be better presented. In a 2008 survey of first- and second-year medical students at Harvard, those who used accelerated video lectures reported being more focused and learning more material faster than when they attended lectures in person.

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#13 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2012-January-23, 09:44

The combination of strained resources and national need makes this a ripe time for some rethinking of college education.

Some years back the department invested in some videos for the basic college math course. A gigantic, and very expensive, flop. Technology has come a long way since then and no doubt we could do better, but it's not a slam dunk.


Part of the issue is that the phrase "the clearest calculus teacher" is not as well-defined as it sounds. Clear about what? I learned my calculus from two volumes by Richard Courant (of the Courant Institute). I kept both volumes and in fact I still have them. in a different course, at the end of the term, I wrote obscenities all over the text, drank a martini, and then did a ritual tearing of the book in half. There were more than a few people who would exactly reverse these textbook ratings. Incidentally I failed this second course. It turned out that the professor gave a ten point open book quiz every lecture. Since I only came to class to take his stupid exams, he could have turned in my F by Thanksgiving. So I retook it and showed up every time (or at least more often) with my shredded text. The professor was also the author so he probably wasn't pleased, but I survived.

Anyway, one person's really clear is another person's really boring. In my college years I was either immature or a free spirit, depending on your views of such things, but I had definite likes and dislikes. Working with the infinite variety of humans, and late adolescent humans at that, is a serious challenge.
Ken
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#14 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2012-January-23, 10:07

I remember three courses: a high school senior year AP course in calculus, using Thomas' Calculus and Analytic Geometry. I had read both volumes before my senior year started. In fact, I got in trouble in trig class (tenth grade? eleventh? I don't remember) because I was reading Thomas, and the teacher called me up to prove this trig formula he'd written on the blackboard was an identity. I said "well, take the derivative of both sides... and there you go." His reaction was "You can't do that! You don't know that yet!" :lol: The other two course were freshman year in college. Chemistry was taught be Professor Laubengayer (sp?), who'd won a Nobel Prize some forty years before. He knew his business, but he was clearly either the quintessential absent-minded professor, or getting senile. Still, I enjoyed the course, and learned a lot. Then there was Physics 101 (for Physics majors). The text was terrible, but it was written by the prof, so we had little choice. As an example of how well the teaching went, our first prelim (preliminary exam, sort of like a mid-term, but there were more of them) the average grade was 33%. I got a 34. After the exam, six hundred freshmen stood at the top of Lib Slope yelling "Awwww, S**t!!" at the top of their lungs. After the course was over, we held a book burning. In later years, I had to refer to other first year physics texts in more advanced courses, because I didn't really learn the basics in that first course, I just worked to pass the damn tests.
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#15 User is online   helene_t 

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Posted 2012-January-23, 11:17

Slightly off-topic, maybe: I got a request from University of the People (http://www.uopeople.org/) to join as a volunteer mentor. Is that a serious organization? Anyone knows?
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#16 User is offline   onoway 

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Posted 2012-January-23, 13:18

I looked up the people on their advisory board and it looks pretty impressive. At least two of the profiles said they are now involved with this organization. I'd never heard of them before though.
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#17 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2012-January-23, 17:51

What does "democratization of higher education" mean?
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#18 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-January-24, 13:34

I guess it means making higher education available to as many people as possible, including poor people and citizens of repressive states.

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Posted 2012-January-24, 20:49

Thanks Y66, I am checking out their IT & AI courses.
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#20 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2012-March-05, 07:56

From Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls by Tamar Levin

Posted ImageSebastian Thrun, left, a Stanford professor, and Andy Brown, a course manager, recording in their studio in Palo Alto, Calif.

Quote

Last fall, 160,000 students in 190 countries enrolled in an Artificial Intelligence course taught by Mr. Thrun and Peter Norvig, a Google colleague. An additional 200 registered for the course on campus, but a few weeks into the semester, attendance at Stanford dwindled to about 30, as those who had the option of seeing their professors in person decided they preferred the online videos, with their simple views of a hand holding a pen, working through the problems.

Mr. Thrun was enraptured by the scale of the course, and how it spawned its own culture, including a Facebook group, online discussions and an army of volunteer translators who made it available in 44 languages.

“Having done this, I can’t teach at Stanford again,” he said at a digital conference in Germany in January. “I feel like there’s a red pill and a blue pill, and you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture your 20 students. But I’ve taken the red pill, and I’ve seen Wonderland.”

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