Thursday, January 04, 2007

Go to MIT for Free! A brief look at biology offerings.

There is an interesting article in the January 4 2007 Christian Science Monitor about MIT and other schools making their courses available online with unrestricted access. This part of an effort called the Open Course Ware Consortium whose slogan is Open Sharing, Global Benefits. The consortium is an international effort and has universities from China, Japan, Europe as well as a number from the United States.

This material is not meant to replace real online or face to face courses but is useful for several groups. So for instance, since I teach genetics naturally I am interested in how MIT approaches genetics and what I can get from it to incorporate into my course. I am pleased to see lots of the same material but approached in a slightly different way at times and I have already gotten some good ideas for my students.

The types of material available is quite variable in completeness. Some of the MIT courses have fairly complete set of lecture notes, while others just have a series of readings and assignments. Audio and video lectures are also available for some. This is useful material both for other teachers but also for independent students and a few courses have discussion forums for OCW users, but I assume the course professors would not participate in these forums.

The OCW movement started at MIT but has grown to the point where according to the Christian Science Monitor article, the MIT site alone gets 1.4 million visitors a month! I think I will spend some time this semester going through MIT's Teaching College Level Science course.

Other interesting courses:

Calculus with Applications: Includes full set of lectures and textbook and Java applets.

Differential Equations: Video lectures and lots of cool graphics and a recitation section with applications in pdf format.

Introductory Biology: This course is the similar to the Cell and Molecular Biology course we offer at JCCC.

Genetics (Of course): This is team taught and I like the pdf lecture presentations.

Darwin and Design: This is in the literature department...too bad I hope the biologists take this as well since the readings look very nice. I notice there is no coverage of the modern intelligent design movement. That makes perfect sense since intelligent design is just a rehash of old ideas anyway.

At the graduate level:

Systems Biology: This requires Matlab and is oriented toward cellular and developmental systems biology.

Computational Functional Genomics: This looks really good...wonder if Sandra Porter has seen this course?

Stay tuned...

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