MIT launches first free online course

MITx is now allowing students around the world to enroll in its first prototype online course.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has unveiled its first prototype course that will be available on its new MITx platform.

The electronics course '6.002x: Circuits and Electronics', available in March for students to enroll, is the first of its kind launched on the MITx platform. Announced in December, the interactive platform will offer a range of free MIT courses based on distance learning and the philosophy of extending education to a wider audience -- 'breaking down the barriers to education'.

Interested students can currently enroll for the course. It will officially begin on March 5 and finish June 8, 2012. MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif says:

"We are very excited to begin MITx with this prototype class. We will use this prototype course to optimize the tools we have built by soliciting and acting on feedback from learners."

Support for learners will be available through the discussion board and a 'wiki' designed specifically for those signed up for 6.002. Anyone is able to sign up, but it is expected that those taking this course possess either an advanced secondary-education or college level in electricity and magnetism in order to succeed.

The course's summary states:

The course introduces engineering in the context of the lumped circuit abstraction. Topics covered include: resistive elements and networks; independent and dependent sources; switches and MOS transistors; digital abstraction; amplifiers; energy storage elements; dynamics of first- and second-order networks; design in the time and frequency domains; and analog and digital circuits and applications.

6.002x is built on content created by MIT professors Anant Agarwal and Jeffrey H. Lang for 6.002, the traditional campus-based, paid alternative. There are four instructors and several teaching assistants who will be working with students on the course.

After enrolling, students are given a course schedule, an e-textbook learning guide, and a discussion board to promote communication among distance-learner classmates. Each week, students are expected to watch video demonstrations, complete practical exercises and homework, and participate in online interactive lab sessions.

Everything will be done online; including completing exams, accessing study materials and a system for students to check their grades as the course progresses. MIT expect that students will have to spend approximately 10 hours per week on the course.

As part of the launch of this prototype, students who 'demonstrate their mastery' -- in other words, pass -- will receive a free certificate of completion. In the future, MITx students can be issued certificates for a small fee.

Additional courses are expected to be announced in fall 2012.


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