Monday, October 14, 2013

The First Physics MOOC From MITx

This is a rather interesting article for anyone interested in online physics courses. It is a report on MIT's first Massive Online Open Course.

Abstract: Massive Open Online Courses are an exciting new avenue for instruction and research, yet they are full of unknowns. In the Spring of 2013, MITx released its first introductory physics MOOC through the edX platform, generating a total enrollment of 43,000 students from around the world. We describe the population of participants in terms of their age, gender, level of education, and country of origin, highlighting both the diversity of 8.02x enrollees as well as gender gap and retention. Using three midterm exams and the final as waypoints, we highlight performance by different demographic subpopulations and their retention rates. Our work is generally aimed at making a bridge between available MOOC data and topics associated with the Physics Education Research community.

I am still not sure how effective such a course is when compared to the traditional method of brick-and-mortar classrooms. Certainly, modern advancement inevitably will expand the way we all attend classes beyond the common practice. Still, based on the conclusion derived from this study, such a course may still not be suitable for first-time learner.

Our analysis of retention points toward the possible outcome of 8.02x being better suited for advanced degree holders versus college undergraduates. Some MOOCs have realized the importance of designing courses for population with education beyond a bachelor degree (e.g. a MOOC targeting high school physics teachers


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