New MIT Online Physics MOOC to Provide Continuing Education Credit

American Association of Physics Teachers offers 8 CEU’s for course participants.

Cambridge, MA, May 05, 2013 --( Mechanics ReView, ( a new Massive Open Online Course offered by MIT on the edX platform this summer, will offer eight Continuing Education Units through a collaboration with the American Association of Physics Teachers. The credits will be available at a cost of approximately $250. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been hailed for their ability to flexibly provide education to thousands of learners at a time but in most cases have not provided formal recognition for participation.

Mechanics ReView was developed out of a three-week January review of classical mechanics offered to MIT students who struggled in MIT’s first semester physics course, 8.01 Classical Mechanics. The course is designed for learners with a previous exposure to classical Newtonian mechanics, and uses rigorously designed assessments and a unique pedagogical approach to help learners develop confidence in their ability to solve physics problems using a structured approach.

The course, starting June 1, has proven in prior iterations to be popular with high school physics teachers, who comprised 45% of the learners in a previous online offering by the MIT research group that developed course. Mechanics ReView was developed by the RELATE (Research in Learning, Assessing and Tutoring Effectively) research group at MIT, under the direction of Professor David Pritchard in the Department of Physics and Research Laboratory of Electronics, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Physics teachers in the prior iterations praised the course highly. “This course was the challenge I needed,” commented one participant. “I teach AP Physics and I have decided to adjust some of my methodology. Instead of doing so much lecture to students who have already had a year of physics, I will be providing some basic notes and having students doing much more group problem solving. This class has shown me that problem solving is a very effective way to learning the ins and outs of physics.”

The course uses a carefully structured pedagogy called Modeling Applied to Problem Solving (MAPS). MAPS is a strategic, systematic approach to problem-solving based on categorization of student knowledge into models. The basic knowledge of Mechanics is represented as five core models, each of which specifies the types of system to which it applies, the interactions that change the variable of interest (velocity, momentum, mechanical energy, angular velocity, or angular momentum) and the equation governing that change. Students are then taught a systematic approach to problem solving called SIM, for System, Interaction, and Model. SIM tells students to plan a solution based on explicitly picking a System, identifying the important Interactions, and selecting an appropriate core Model.

About David E. Pritchard

Dr. Pritchard is a professor of physics at MIT, and the creator of the MAPS curriculum that is at the core of Mechanics ReView. Dr. Pritchard is a pioneer in atomic physics research and has mentored three Nobel lauriates. His research group currently focuses on understanding how students can learn better, especially from online courses such as this one.


Improving education using computers is the mantra of education in the 21st century. The learning potential of interactive environments, and the associated scalability and economy of internet delivery, beg for creative and thoughtful development. The RELATE program has as its broad objective the improvement of learning and pedagogy in interactive environments. Key to this is our development of integrated assessment tools with unprecedented reliability. We believe that accurate assessment of all educational innovations – not just electronic ones – is crucial to improving the mixed educational results of educational reform in the 20th century. Under support from NSF and from MIT, we have made considerable progress toward these objectives since 2000.

About MITx

The MITx program supports MIT’s exploration of teaching approaches enabled by digital technologies, both on the MIT campus and through scalable online courses on the edX platform. MITx is a constituent organization of MIT’s new Office of Digital Learning, under the leadership of the Director of Digital Learning, Professor Sanjay Sarma.

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 on an open source platform. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX is focused on people, not profit, and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.
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