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MITx, edX team up with City of Chicago to bring high school students MOOC-style learning

Mayor Emanuel praises flexible, high quality online learning opportunity

The MIT Office of Digital Learning has announced a collaboration between MITx, edX and the City of Chicago that will bring a six week MOOC-style course to that city's high school students during the Chicago Summer of Learning. The course, A Taste of Python Programming, was developed under the leadership of Professor John Guttag and is based on materials from the popular MITx offering 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming. A Taste of Python Programming will run from June 25th to August 2nd and covers the first four weeks of materials from 6.00x.

"This course is a great opportunity for these kids to get a sense of how computer scientists think about solving problems," said Professor Guttag in describing the class. "And they get the chance to learn by doing, writing basic Python code." Video lectures for the course were recorded by MIT Chancellor W. Eric Grimson and EECS Senior Lecturer Chris Terman.

The Chicago Summer of Learning is a new initiative launched by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to engage students in learning opportunities throughout the summer. It pairs more than 120,000 learning opportunities operated or supported by City agencies such as the Chicago Public Libraries and the Chicago Park District with additional opportunities from participating non-profit organizations. In a statement released today, Mayor Emanuel welcomed the involvement of the MOOC providers. "With MITx and edX joining us in this effort, we are able to provide a flexible, high-quality online learning opportunity to Chicago students as part of the Summer of Learning."

The course is expected to be challenging, covering the first four weeks of material from 6.00x at the same level of academic rigor. The course does not include exams or grades but students will be expected to spend 12-15 hours per week completing course work including weekly problem sets. A hands-on experience, the course will provide a basic introduction to programming concepts and approaches, and how to execute them in the Python programming language.

The course is primarily for Chicago high school students, but students from other areas of the country will be welcomed. While the course does not offer credit or certificates, Chicago students will be able to earn digital badges for completing the course through the Chicago Summer of Learning Initiative. The MIT Alumni Association has recruited alumni volunteers who will support the initiative by participating in the course as Community TAs, engaging in coursework, and supporting students who pose questions in online discussion forums.

The course is a part of MIT's ongoing efforts to expand high-quality educational opportunities using new educational technologies. "Educational technologies are making it possible for us to extend the reach of MIT faculty far beyond our campus," remarked MIT President L. Rafael Reif in discussing the program. "Through tools developed for MITx, Chicago students can now benefit from lectures and exercises based directly on the materials students work with at MIT."

6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming has been among the most popular of MOOCs offered by MITx, with more than 150,000 learners worldwide enrolling in the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 offerings. The course is taught by Professor Guttag, Chancellor Grimson and Chris Terman.

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