MIT Offering Free MOOCs on Game Design and Educational Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced a new initiative to teach video game design and online education free of charge. Russell Westerholm of University Herald writes that MIT is kicking off the first series of massive open online courses (MOOCs) this week, focusing on educational technology. Next will come game design starting on Oct. 22, and, in the near future, there will be courses on educational gaming and technology.

"There has to be a real need," the course's host Eric Klopfer, director of the Education Arcade, told USA Today. "What we'd like to get out of it is some great, interesting ideas that maybe some people move forward with."

The first video game was invented at MIT about 50 years ago, so it's only logical that MIT's game development MOOC wants to teach students how to create their own game, create a formal proposal, and start a crowd funding campaign. The MOOCs will be lively and will include group work and interviews from experts.

"We know that the stuff that has caught on most with MOOCs are things that can be assessed through automated testing," Scot Osterweil, Education Arcade's creative director, told USA Today. "We know we're not the only ones trying to think about more project-based MOOCs, but we also know that it hasn't advanced very far."

The teacher education program at MIT focuses on games and other tools, with one game, Lure of the Labyrinth, having a cult following among middle school math teachers. There is also a pilot version of a new multiplayer math and science online role-playing game, reports USA Today‘s Greg Toppo.

The video game that many think was the first and was created by a group of MIT geeks in 1962 was Spacewar!. Topps writes that it was a two-player rocket-ships and torpedoes game. Gravitational pull from the sun in the middle of the screen, an accurate map of the solar system, and a hyperspace button that made spaceships evaporate were programmed by subsequent players. Student hackers used the school's new PDP-1 computer to create it and later the PDP-1's manufacturer shipped the computer with the game loaded as a diagnostic tool. The game grew to such popularity that gamers started complaining of "Spacewar Elbow".

"You can't read about the new technology without finding somebody commenting about its application in education," said Osterweil. "Almost any new technology that reaches the public quickly spawns an interest in educational applications. I think the desire to apply it to education represents a powerful desire to change and improve education."

The MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs (OEOP) in the School of Engineering offers three no-charge academic enrichment programs for rising high school seniors nationwide. This summer program is open to students who are "truly passionate about learning and willing to spend their summer doing course work". The 2015 summer application will be accessible here.

To find out more about the courses and to sign up, there is a page designated on the official website MIT EDX, relays Sarmad Lillah of SegmentNext.

10 14, 2014
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