MITx 6.002x – week 1

I’ve just completed my first lab and “homework” for MITx 6.002x – and I achieved a decent result too!

MITx 6.002x - week1 progress

However, before I get too excited, I need to point out that they have a rather odd system of marking assignments – and one that anyone who’s studied an OU course would love!

You are allowed to make as many attempts at each question as you want. Not only that, but it the course software gives you instant feedback on whether your answer was right or wrong. So getting 100% (or close to it) didn’t ought to be that difficult for every lab and “homework”.

30% of the course marks are awarded just for completing these 12 weekly “homework” assignments and labs – in other words, just for (virtually, of course) turning up. This leads me to wonder if the same will apply to the mid-term and final assignments – worth 30% and 40% of the course respectively.

Leaving assignments aside, it’s been an interesting week going through the material. It’s reminded me of many of the things I first learned 30-odd years ago (Kirchhoff’s Current and Voltage Laws, for example) and had since forgotten about. The material has been engaging and even the over-use of words like “fun” and “cool” isn’t annoying me too much at the moment.

I’ve found that other people are blogging about the course too.  For example, Alison Wheeler has written about how 6.002x fails the internationalization (i18n) test. It’s an interesting article, and I agree in principle with all of the points she makes in it.

However, perhaps such criticism at this stage of MITx’s development is a little harsh, and Alison does close her article by partially conceding this point. DD307 “situated knowledges”, anyone? After all, you know before you sign up that you’ll be taking a prototype course, designed by Americans, using material adapted from a “live” (and paid for!) presentation to Americans on MIT 6.002.

For the time being, I’m more than prepared to forgive them for using a 115 feet length of wire in one of the exercises, instead of referring to it as having a length of 35.052 metres.

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Reader Comments

  1. Dan

    I think allowing resubmission of answers is one of the most brilliant aspects of these courses. Whenever I have studied at an institution once I received a problem set back I’d look at where I had wrong answers, check what they they should have been, but I never sat down and kept reworking the problem until I understand how to get the correct answer. With a course like this I will keep working at it until I get the right answer. The result is that I’ll walk away having figured out how to solve every single problem.

    The criticism of the US- and English-centric nature of these courses is not exactly valid. Those courses given by the US univesities are going to be such, just as they would be if that foreign student flew to the US and did the course on campus. At the same time courses are popping up from universities in places like China, where the courses are presented in Mandarin, albeit with subtitles. The latter of course is because those behind Edx are in the US. I suspect they want units left out for simplicity of parsing answers. The decimal point aspect is something anyone can simply look up. I find it silly that Europeans cling to using the comma as a decimal point (even sillier than Americans clinging to Imperial units).

Your thoughts?