March 16, 2012
I have finally become a student again! What is more I am now enrolled with MIT(x) and it did not take a huge fee or any tough entry requirements. I am one of the 90,000 people who clicked the enroll button and signed in. For me there are several motivations:
- I work on Open Educational Resources and feel I should experience what it is like to learn from them (I nearly did this with Sebastian Thrum’s AI course and regretted not going through when I spoke to an enthusiastic Seb Schmoller about his experience on the AI course).
- I know some MIT folk and they come up with some interesting directions that it would be good to see in more detail. So this could feel like going in undercover and this way I needn’t feel bad about not doing the assignements but …
- I nearly set out to do a course like this as an undergraduate. In the end I took Maths but always wondered if I should have taken electronic/physics. So I would like to do this for real.
So what has it been like? Well actually it has been quite hard! The level is fairly high and I have found in the first week that I have been integrating trig functions, differentiating using the product rule and writing rather a lot of symbols on pieces of paper! I have also found it quite rewarding – a bit like suduko on steroids. Puzzles that I really have to work at – and then carry on working on late at night. So far I have managed to come out the other side ok as luckily the “homeworks” all multiple attempts, I have a feeling that I have yet to get anything completely right on the first attempt.
The course itself has:
- Videos to watch – these are sequenced and mixed with exercises. They are captioned but as Brandon Muramatsu points out in his post 6.002x Video: First Impressions they could have done this a bit better. Proper captioning would make quite a difference for me as I find I would rather read the words than listen and set things at 1.5x to help speed things up. (I think the team are listening though as it now remembers that I like video at 1.5x and I think at first I had to keep resetting that.
- A huge textbook. This is a commercial book that you could buy but is available free. But in the free form it is quite annoying only page by page access and no downloading it all. I would really like this on my kindle and that is not possible, and I think actually the conditions would say that I cannot engineer it myself.
- Discussions and a wiki with hints and feedbacks. The discussions are using a system that I think is called Askbot and so is based on Q&A rather than discussions as such. This might limit the chance for the community itself to form and is getting a bit unwieldy. There are also groups on other places such as facebook – but I have not explored those.
- Exercises to work through. These typically ask questions and then you enter responses which are judged. Then you can look at the answers if you want or try again. The answers are often numeric.
- Tutorials running through in videos worked examples. I have not watched many of these and it is quite hard to know what they will cover without watching them through.
- Homework. These are similar to the exercises but you do not get the option to see the answer, These are fine – but they are quite challenging. Typically they extend well beyond the work covered in the videos and are difficult to match to the textbook as well.
- Labs. These use a circuit simulator where you build up circuit diagrams and then calculate values or run a trace.
For me the homework has become the driver – quite revealing in itself though not a surprise to find assessment is taking over. The time I have spent was probably not far off the 10 hours in the first week but then a bit less as too much else has been going on in the second week.
I am enjoying doing the course though if the difficulty scales up I might fall by the wayside. I am not seeking to be critical in this post but I do agree with Brandon that a bit more effort to get the accessibility working better is needed. For the learning process I would normally expect stronger alignment between the materials and what is tested as well but actually having the homework as puzzles in themselves is quite interesting. I can then carry out a treasure hunt to see where the clues are hidden (in texts, videos, other exercises, discussions and out there in google search land).
I am not sure 6.002x should count as “Open Educational Resource” (OER), it is built on some materials already released on MIT’s OpenCourseWare site. But the addition of the textbook, the closed access to the course itself and that nothing in the design encourages transfer to another site make it more a free course than an open one.
At this point there is just time to sign up (first homework closes 18 March). So if you like mathematical puzzles, wonder if you should have done/should do electronics, and are interested in how open learning works this could be just the thing!
February 10, 2010
I am attending the Higher Education Leadership Summit in London tomorrow (11 February 2010) which should be an interesting experience in many ways. Not least because I have been asked to provide some “live blogging” along with 3 other people working across the different strands of the conference. Cloudworks is being used to provide a place for sharing the blogging. So hopefully there will be plenty to see at http://cloudworks.ac.uk/go/hels10
November 19, 2008
My colleague Martin Weller put a little movie that he made over lunch with Xtranormal on his blog. Martin always picks up on the latest tools and applies them to his work in really interesting an insightful ways. Whereas I delegate! So last night when my daughter for her Year 4 homework had to write a very short mini-play to understand scene-setting and dialogue. I remembered Martin’s demo and logged into Xtranormal on the Asus in our living room. Actually I couldn’t get it to work as it was a bit tricky using the small screen on the Asus – but while I went off to help with getting dinner on the table – my daughter worked it out.
Anyway here is the result of her (and a little bit my) work. (
I will embed it when I get that to work – link for now! Proper embedding doesn’t seem to work on WordPress so picture with a link will have to do)
An incredibly easy to use tool with impressive results and ideal for this bit of homework. I am not sure whether it will be like my fling with Animoto where I only think of the occasional thing to do with it. But I have just found myself in a research group meeting proposing it as a way to present/support argumentation develop linked to work on inquiry in school age children, so maybe worth a follow up.
April 27, 2008
This year we again have a pair of blue tits in a nest box by our house. The nest box has a camera in it hooked up to our TV via a DVD recorder. Blue Tit TV is definitely the best channel we have and the female has just settled down to brood her 10 eggs – laid one a day over the last 10 days, though she wouldn’t start laying unit he proved that he could bring her caterpillars!
Last year we uploaded quite a few videos on my son’s youtube channel. Not sure if we will do so many this year but it is fascinating and definitely educational. Things that I found out: how blue tits sleep, that he finds the nest then gives it up, what an angry blue tit looks like, and more.