"These sequences are an opportunity for MIT to both explore how subjects can be addressed in depth through the MOOC format and to better understand student interest in various types of certification," remarked MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department Head Anantha Chandrakasan in discussing the announcement. "XSeries sequences allow our departments to reimagine the building blocks that structure teaching in our disciplines for the digital environment."
Each XSeries will cover content equivalent to two to four traditional residential courses and take between six months and two years to complete. In a break from previous MITx offerings, the Foundations of Computer Science and Supply Chain and Logistics Management XSeries sequences are composed of shorter, more targeted modules without one-to-one residential course equivalents.
"We are no longer constrained to structure course material in 14-week units to fit the academic semester," said MIT Senior Lecturer Chris Terman, part of the instructional team for the Foundations of Computer Science XSeries. "We can split the material into more approachable modules, each focused on key concepts of computer science and computational thinking, and assemble those modules into new programs intended for a larger audience."
The first module of the Computer Science XSeries will begin this fall, and the Supply Chain and Logistics Management XSeries will start in Fall 2014. As part of the pilot, the initial XSeries sequences are pitched at different student levels. The Foundations of Computer Science XSeries is designed at the introductory undergraduate level and the Supply Chain and Logistics Management XSeries has been developed at the graduate level for learners seeking to work professionally in the field. The programs will offer certificates of achievement but not academic credit.
"We're hoping to understand more about the credentials that learners value," said Dr. Chris Caplice, who, together with other faculty members at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, is developing the Supply Chain and Logistics Management XSeries. "We hope that learners and employers will ultimately find the Supply Chain and Logistics Management XSeries certificate to be valuable in signaling meaningful professional development, but we are in the early stages of exploring these kinds of programs."
Starting in Spring 2014, the XSeries sequences will use edX's new ID verification process, providing the added value of identity assurance for the certificates. This new edX functionality uses webcam photos to confirm student identity, provides linkable online certificates, and requires a modest fee. Prices for XSeries courses will be announced later this fall, and students will also have the option of auditing the sequences for free. EdX is piloting ID verification on three standalone courses this fall, including 6.002x Circuits and Electronics from MITx, and two courses from BerkeleyX: 169.1x Software as a Service and Stat 2.1x Intro to Statistics: Descriptive Statistics. These courses will continue to be offered with an honor code certificate option as well.
The MITx program supports MIT's exploration of teaching approaches enabled by digital technologies, both on the MIT campus and through scalable online courses on the edX platform. MITx is a constituent organization of MIT's new Office of Digital Learning, under the leadership of the Director of Digital Learning, Professor Sanjay Sarma.
EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise composed of 20+ leading global institutions, the xConsortium. Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX is focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research on an open source platform. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX is focused on people, not profit, and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.