New MITx course by Walter Lewin has potential to be the largest MOOC ever

MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin announces massive open online course through edX.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 23, 2013 -- Walter Lewin, the MIT physics professor who has achieved an unparalleled following through his video lectures on the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) site, is now offering a massive open online course (MOOC). The course, 8.02x Electricity and Magnetism, is available through edX, MIT and Harvard's not-for-profit online learning enterprise. Announced today and starting February 18th, the course may well become the biggest of the MOOC yet offered. Learners successfully completing the course will receive a certificate bearing Professor Lewin's signature to recognize their achievement.

In the past two years, MOOCs have been putting up impressive numbers. The first MOOC offered by MIT, 6.002x Circuits and Electronics, enrolled more than 150,000 learners, and other edX courses have been attracting learners numbering in the tens of thousands. Millions worldwide have taken free massive open online classes through edX and other providers.

But these numbers pale in comparison to the numbers associated with Professor Lewin's online course materials published through MIT OpenCourseWare:

  • Professor Lewin's courses—including 8.01 Classical Mechanics, 8.02 Electricity and Magnetism and 8.03 Vibrations and Waves—have been visited more than 8 million times on OCW
  • The video lectures for these courses have been viewed more than 11.4 million times on YouTube
  • The first lecture for 8.01 has been viewed more than 1.2 million times on YouTube
  • Translations of Professor Lewin's courses in Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Turkish and Thai have been accessed by hundreds of thousands of learners

The extent of Professor Lewin's global recognition through OCW has the potential to attract an enormous number of learners to his edX course.

Professor Lewin's course, however, has more to offer than just size. His lectures are recognized worldwide for their quality and clarity, and approach the material with MIT-level rigor. Learners taking the course will get a taste of what it's like to attend a first-year physics class at MIT, complete with assessments similar to those MIT students receive. The class offers the opportunity for the millions who have gained a new appreciation of Physics through Professor Lewin's lectures to test that understanding using the latest online learning tools, and to receive a certificate recognizing their achievement.

Prerequisite courses for 8.02x include 8.01 Classical Mechanics and 18.01 Single Variable Calculus, both of which are available for independent study on the OCW site in the unique OCW Scholar format. OCW Scholar courses provide MIT course materials in a self-guided format that can be accessed at any time, but do not include instructor support or recognition for completion.

In addition to Professor Lewin's class, MIT has announced another new course, The Challenges of Global Poverty from Esther Duflo, to be offered through edX; Introduction to Computer Science and Programming and Introduction to Solid State Chemistry, both offered in 2012, are again available in 2013.

About Professor Walter Lewin

A native of The Netherlands, Professor Walter H. G. Lewin received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Delft (1965). In 1966, he came to MIT as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Physics and was invited to join the faculty as an Assistant Professor later that same year. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Physics in 1968 and to full Professor in 1974. Professor Lewin's honors and awards include the NASA Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (1978), twice recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Award (1984 and 1991), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), MIT's Science Council Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1984) and the W. Buechner Teaching Prize of the MIT Department of Physics (1988). In 1997, he was the recipient of a NASA Group Achievement Award for the Discovery of the Bursting Pulsar. He is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (elected 1993), Fellow of the American Physical Society.

About edX

EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX uses its open source technology to transcend physical and social borders. We're focused on people, not profit. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.

About MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT's undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,150 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 2 million website visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 150 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.