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Old 17th August 2012, 01:26 PM   #1
Pemo is offline Pemo  Mexico
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Default New "Free Online MIT Courses"

Hello everyone, again MIT is offering for this fall some very interesting Free Online Courses. Last "Circuits and Electronics" course was very successful and many of you unfortunately missed it. Here you can find the link to the invitation.
Announcing exciting new free online courses from edX
Best regards,

PEMO
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Old 17th August 2012, 11:43 PM   #2
wbain is offline wbain  United States
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Those MIT courses are good, give them a try.
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Old 18th August 2012, 12:38 AM   #3
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Default ...Last enrolement at uni was over a decade ago.

But I've signed up to give it a shot. It's a bit intimidating reading the course staff's credentials!
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Old 18th August 2012, 12:47 AM   #4
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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You'll definitely learn a lot from the MIT online courses, worth the time and effort.. A good deal when you consider the tuition at MIT..
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Old 18th August 2012, 02:41 AM   #5
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does anyone have an idea of how this works? do they just post a video of the material and you can view it at any time?
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Old 18th August 2012, 03:02 AM   #6
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It's been a few years since I set foot in a university myself, and I didn't even start college until age 37. I read the discriptions of the computer science classes, and found this amusing. "students spend a lot of time and effort learning to bend the computer to their will." I can say that I bent the computer in a programming class about 20 years ago. I willed a program to work, it didn't, so I bent the computer.

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does anyone have an idea of how this works? do they just post a video of the material and you can view it at any time?
From what I read each course is different. Some have fixed dates, and one just says "Students may take CS50x at their own pace, starting anytime after October 15, 2012 and finishing anytime before April 15, 2013."
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Old 18th August 2012, 06:04 PM   #7
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Thank you, Pemo, for reminding us about this. I'd been planning on enrolling for a while, then forgot about it. I'm really looking forward to this!
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Old 19th August 2012, 01:05 AM   #8
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I'd also been keeping an eye on Udacity - 21st Century University and the courses offered there.
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Old 19th August 2012, 04:40 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by harperrc View Post
does anyone have an idea of how this works? do they just post a video of the material and you can view it at any time?
I was in the MIT 6.002X class this last spring. As I recall, there were something like 150,000 (yes, one-hundred-and-fifty thousand) students who registered for the class and around six or seven thousand who completed it with a passing grade.

For each week there is a "lecture sequence" containing anywhere from half a dozen to perhaps 15 or 20 video segments. Each segment may be less than a minute, to maybe 10 or 12 minutes in length; the complete sequences have total run times between 30 minutes and 2.5 hours. You can view, or re-view, any video segment from the current or prior weeks at any time and in any order. The system keeps track of which segment you last viewed. The videos can be viewed in true-time, or fast time (up to 2X speedup as I recall), or slow motion. There is a side pane on the video that displays closed-caption transcript of the audio, almost in real time. (Though occasionally a phrase is dropped, or a word isn't rendered correctly. Several times "MOSFET" came out as "mass fit".)

Most weeks also have links to optional review, background, or more in-depth presentations on the week's topics. There is also an optional textbook - which you can purchase as a paper volume for around US$100, or view the relevant portions online from the course pages at no charge. Even the online segments contain more information, in both breadth and depth, than the lecture sequences.

There is a "Discussion" area, much like this Forum (though not as well organized) where folks can chat about course topics, related ideas, assignments, or pretty much anything else. The course staff occasionally participated in the Discussions but the posts were overwhelmingly from students. (After all, students outnumbered staff by about ten-thousand to one.) As here, nearly all posts attempted to be helpful - with varying degrees of success.

The lecture videos were, to be honest, a little disappointing for their production quality (but acceptable for their content). A few were videocamera recordings of the lecturer (Dr Agarwal) in a live classroom. They captured his use of the chalkboard, and some of the gestures and body movements of the live presentation but there was little in the way of class interaction that I recall from college lectures. (I think this class is normally for second-semester freshmen so maybe they were still too intimidated to even know when to laugh at the jokes.) Some of the video segments were video recordings of in-class demonstrations. It's kind of cool to see a 'scope display projected onto a wall-sized screen, and it helps to keep the viewer's attention focused on just the one or two factors being discussed, but personally I would have preferred to see closeups of normal test equipment interconnected and sitting on a benchtop. Most of the lecture segments were - disappointingly - just "talking hands" Power Point presentations. Except that Power Point lets you write in a zillion colors, that's not really any different from a professor writing on a chalkboard, like I saw in Sept 1969. I was hoping for more in the way of animations, computer graphics, etc. In fact, maybe not quite as effective: professors with chalkboards would sometimes put background information, important equations, reference schematics, etc, onto a side chalkboard that you could glance at as-needed during a presentation on the main chalkboard. With the Power Point video you have to stop, find the reference you want to refresh your memory about, then try to find where you left off with the main presentation.

Each week had two graded homework assignments: one set of "Theory" problems, and one "Lab" exercise using the course's proprietary "Circuit Sandbox" simulator. The homework was computer-scored in real-time - as soon as you hit < ENTER > you knew whether the answer was correct or not. I think you had an unlimited number of attempts to get the correct answer. The answer parser still had some bugs - it usually took 2 or 3 tries to get an algebraic form that it liked. Numerical values were easier, but my brain is cluttered with so many different ways of entering powers-of-ten notation in various programming languages and data entry systems that I can never recall which notation goes with which program. I think you had 2-1/2 weeks to submit an assignment for credit; e.g., the assignment that was made public at the start of Week 1 would be accepted until the 2nd or 3rd day of Week 3. Even though everybody had the same basic problems in each assignment, there were at least dozens - perhaps hundreds - of variations in the specific values used for each student's assignment. Consequently you were unlikely to find somebody else to simply copy a homework answer from; at the very least, you'd have to replicate the other student's calculation sequence using your unique values.

(I guess there is some personal satisfaction to showing off your personal grade page with " 100% " beside each assignment - but since there is no charge for the course, and no recognized academic credit to be earned, and not even a human grader to impress with your submitted work, what else have you gained by cheating the assignment's automated scorer?)

I don't know about the other offerings but MIT 6.002X is very much an introductory class on circuit analysis. It won't teach you how to fix your television, or how to invent the ultimate audio power amplifier. It presents some of the basic tools - the three basic passive elements as well as controlled and independent sources, Ohm's Law, mesh and node equations, the concept of circuit models - that will be used in the next 3 years of subsequent courses. Within that framework it is very much a legitimate college-level course, not dumbed-down or over simplified. I can see it being valuable to many people who wonder about their preparation or suitability for a university-level degree program in electrical or computer engineering. If you can earn a passing grade in MIT 6.002X there's a good chance you can get through most universties' programs in these fields.

Dale
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Old 19th August 2012, 05:54 AM   #10
benb is offline benb  United States
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I found a "few" more online learning resources here:
No Excuse List
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