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Carlos Martinez

By the end of February 2012 an alumnus sent me an email telling me that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was starting a free web course on Circuits and Electronics, taught by MIT’s former head of its artificial intelligence lab, Professor Anant Agarwal. For a week or two, I was very skeptical about enrolling — after all, I was not a Circuit Analysis professor, nor was I an Analog Electronics lecturer. However, to become an MITx student, even an online guinea pig student, was very challenging. By March 1, I had already signed up. At that time, I did not know the amount of effort that decision would demand from me. But I was resolved to be an MIT 6.002xCircuits & Electronics student, to finish at the top, and to get the certificate of mastery.

I sent several emails to fellow professors. I told them about the MITx web experiment. Only one of them signed up. On their own, some students, full of enthusiasm, also decided to enroll. They kept that decision almost secret. They did not want their peers to know they were “nerds”! At the end of the course, five students and two professors finished at the top, all of us with A grades. One of our students got a perfect score.

By May 2012, 6.002x became edX, the online education web portal founded by MIT and Harvard. And without hesitation, I found myself transformed into a MOOC advocate. If 6.002x enriched my life, it could do the same for others. So I started campaigning to take advantage of this new distance education initiative. I visited different classrooms. I talked with fellow professors. I visited several campuses. I traveled to several cities. I talked to a physician friend (regarding PH207x, Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research, from HarvardX, taught by Harvard Professor Marcello Pagano). I gave a talk to a program for gifted students where the Vice Minister of Science and Technology was present. Without success, I even proposed to our local IEEE branch chairman that it sponsor a contest with a prize to the university that enrolled the most students in Circuits & Electronics.

Early in the fall of 2012, edX offered 6.002x again. I decided it would be interesting to encourage our students to get enrolled. At the University of El Salvador, we managed to motivate more than fifty students. We offered them some help. The ones who took the course in the spring of 2012 would serve as tutors to the ones enrolled in the fall 2012. By the time of the midterm exam, there were still more than two dozen students willing to take it. At the end of the course, two dozen students, three professors and some professional engineers achieved their certificates. Among the students, there was a sixteen year old junior high school boy who enrolled after listening to one of my talks.

There were other students enrolled in other edX courses, including Software as a Service and Introduction to Computer Science and Programming.

In 2012, 6.002x has left a big impression on Salvadoran electrical engineering students. EdX is literally changing the world of education.


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