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MIT Open Courseware...

Jonathan Hendry
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Joined: Aug 16, 2003
Posts: 32
(Sorry if this isn't the best place to post this...)
Is anyone interested in working through MIT's 6.170 Laboratory in Software Engineering or 6.035 Computer Language Engineering
Both involve Java projects. In 6.035 the project is to write a MIPS compiler in Java.
You don't get any college credit, but I figure it might be worth doing, especially if I don't get into any real classes this fall.
HS Thomas
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
World Reaction
I think it's a brilliant initiative.
I am curious to know why these courses don't count towards a degree from MIT, though. Who grades these projects?
regards
Jonathan Hendry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 16, 2003
Posts: 32
HS Thomas writes: "I am curious to know why these courses don't count towards a degree from MIT, though. Who grades these projects?"
Nobody. You're entirely on your own, there's no interaction with MIT unless
you're enrolled as a student ($$$$$$ + way hard to get in). That's why
there's no credit.
(I did note that the Calculus with Applications class asks for feedback, seeming to be asking Open Courseware readers, because it specifically mentions people going through it on their own and getting stuck. They even offer a little help in that instance.)
For someone for whom MIT simply isn't even a shade of a shadow of an option, due to economics, grades, or whatever, I think the courses are probably still worth going through even without credit.
That's why I posted... I think a person would get a lot more out of it if working in a group, than if working alone.
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
*continuing highjack*
Here's an opinion piece that brings up points about Open Courseware that might explain why no credits are awarded:
http://www.e-learningguru.com/articles/art_misc_3.htm
*end highjack*
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
These sound like several Universal Projects that Johannes discussed over in the Teachers Lounge.Thanks for posting this information. I may just have a browse.
The idea does have it's merits. The projecteer or group decides on the standard of the project so there's no ceiling to what you can do with it.
regards
[ September 06, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Jonathan Hendry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 16, 2003
Posts: 32
Pauline writes: "Here's an opinion piece that brings up points about Open Courseware that might explain why no credits are awarded <link>"
I don't get his complaint about having to buy a textbook. It's hardly a bizarre situation to have to buy a textbook for a college class. Some of MITs classes do have online textbooks; the Calculus with Applications course is one example.
Personally, I think I'd prefer the paper textbook to an online textbook. It's just more convenient, and better for studying if you can do all the marking and underlining and highlighting.
The quality of the material definitely varies by class. I've seen some lecture notes that are little more than unelaborated Powerpoint-style presentation slides. That isn't very useful. At the other end of the spectrum is the Linear Algebra course, which has video of every lecture, and it's pretty good quality (you can read the blackboard).
I think this will improve over time. If nothing else, the powerpoint-style lecture notes reflect badly on the department; having a global audience ought to create an impetus to improve.
Getting the most out of OCW definitely requires more work out of students, and it would help if they found others to study with. Courses with papers and projects could be handled by presenting the paper to the study group.
But compare this to real-world classes, which often suck. You might get the interaction with a professor, but the material might be covered more superficially than you'd like, so it's a wash.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I know Dick Yue who created the project, and I work with him on another of his projects at MIT (UPOP). Here's my take.
Dick is very much a big idea guy and very well meaning. He really does want this to change the world, and believes that it can. I think it can, too--in theory.
At MIT most prof's can teach the course however they want. Simply getting them to put a comphrehensive set of notes up online was enough of a challenge. As others have noted, lecture notes are just that, notes. Eventually, as bandwidth and sotrage capacity increase, I'm sure full lectures will be displayed online, it's just a little too costly right now to be practical. Remember, this is a project involving hundres of people and terabits of data. For a project like that, you can go from 0 to 60 overnight.
This is also part of the MIT theory that an MIT education is more than just the information in the book. I agree.
The issue of grading is tough. There's no way to automate it and MIT can't can't afford to grade and test/paper that someone in the world decides to do. There is an alternative. For science and engineering, it's simple--answers are posted and so you can grade yourself. For humanities, you need to get a study group. Many b-schools, for example, use the case method. The idea is that you learn from your peers, and the teacher just moderates to keep the conversation focused. That can certanly work for many humanities classes, too.
If anyone takes it, I'd be intersted in hearing about his/her experiences.
--Mark
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
The Teacher's Lounge might be a better forum for this.
--Mark
 
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