Last updated: 16.02.12

MIT launches 'fully automated' online learning courses

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has revealed it is to launch the world's first ever fully automated online learning courses.It will be free for students to sign up to and will focus on electronics, with the classes set to begin in March, reports BBC News.The Boston-based university announced its intention to branch out into e-learning shortly before Christmas and the creation of the online courses will come under the MITx brand.Anant Agarwal, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, will be one of the teachers in charge of the online learning and stated the aim is to continue to make the course material engaging for those who sign up to take part in the scheme."There are interactive exercises to see if they've understood," he said, pointing out students will need a working knowledge of science and maths to succeed in the e-learning module, although there are no formal requirements for those wishing to participate.MIT's provost Rafael Reif added it will be an experiment to see whether or not e-learning can be a success for the university, with the needs of face-to-face evaluation from members of staff among the factors to be examined during the trial run.He suggested online learning courses may also be valuable for training people in the workforce in the future if it is proved to be a success.MIT has unveiled a virtual laboratory, e-textbooks, online discussions and videos for the online learning courses, which are expected to run until June and take around ten hours per week.The history of MIT dates back over 150 years and there are currently well over 1,000 members of staff employed at the educational institution in the US, while more than 10,000 students are currently signed up to classes at the institution.