Sunday, 18 March 2012

MITx

It is week three of the Massachusetts1 Institute of Technology's inaugural on-line course 6.002x Circuits and Electronics. I'm really impressed!
"6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is designed to serve as a first course in an undergraduate electrical engineering (EE), or electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) curriculum. At MIT, 6.002 is in the core of department subjects required for all undergraduates in EECS." [source]
The course has so far lived up to the high standards expected of an MIT course. I think what distinguishes this course from those at other universities, including Southampton University's excellent ECS School is the effort they have put into making the on-line learning environment (eurgh) as good as possible. The site has been designed from scratch to suit the needs of an electronics course. This includes:
  • On-line access to relevant sections of course textbooks
  • Lectures split into 10 minute videos, all available from youtube
  • Transcripts of all lectures which can be synchronized with the youtube videos
  • Online tutorials with youtube videos showing, and importantly, explaining the worked solutions
  • Proper homework questions with numerical answers which can be checked and graded instantly
  • Virtual electronics labs. They have invested in a browser based circuit simulator which means you can submit circuit diagrams as solutions to questions
I'm really hopeful that MIT will continue to roll out this type of course to cover other electronics, computer science and perhaps even mathematics modules. Furthermore I hope that other universities in England as well as America take note and step up the quality of their on-line course resources. Simple steps as providing relevant sections of the course texts on-line (using something akin to Google scholar to keep the publishers happy) make a big difference. Breaking long lectures into smaller 'chapters' and posting the videos on-line is really useful. You can skip the bits you already understand and rewind to the point where everything stopped making sense.

Although the course has already started you can still enroll here

I have read sections from the course text: Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Architecture and Design). I really like what I have read so far. As first year electronics text books go I think this is the best I've seen. It has a lot of worked examples. Something which is often missing from course texts.



1How many attempts did it take to spell this correctly? Answer: I don't know 'cos I gave up and copied it from the website.

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