Participants in MIT’s about-to-launch “XSeries” MOOCs on computer science will get about three courses-worth of instruction that should give them a strong jump start on future studies or prepare them for a summer internship, senior lecturer Chris Terman says.
The XSeries, which will be offered through edX, contains two “sequences”—“The Foundations of Computer Science” and “Supply Chain and Logistics Management.” Students will get non-credit certificates for completing the multiple modules in a sequence, which could take from six months to two years, says Steve Carson, of MIT’s Office of Digital Learning.
“It’s the first program, that I know of, that is more extensive than a single course, that goes more in-depth into the subjects, and represents a large unit of student achievement,” he says.
The computer science sequence, which has seven modules, begins in October and is an introductory-level course. The supply chain sequence begins in fall 2014 for graduate-level students looking for jobs in the field.
A full-time MIT student could complete the coursework covered in the computer science sequence in one or two semesters, says Terman, a senior lecturer in MIT’s department of electrical engineering and computer science who helped design the MOOCs.
“It’s a way to make our collections of online course offerings seem a bit more coherent than just a giant catalogue of modules,” he says. “The goal is to give people a sense that if you take this batch of modules, you’ll have gotten a start on a computer science curriculum.”
The modules are broken down into more specific subjects, whereas a full-semester course would cover several topics. “This is more splitting topics back along natural fault lines,” Terman says. “It’s easier for students to digest, rather than getting the whole course at once.”
A major in computer science at MIT consists of about 15 courses.
XSeries prices will be announced later this fall though sequences can be audited for free. And starting next spring, the XSeries will use a new process developed by edX to verify that students have completed the MOOCs. It will use webcam photos to confirm students’ identities and have links to online certificates, according to an edX press release.