Massive Open Online Course: Fundamentals of Neuroscience, MIT.
Fundamentals of Neuroscience, Part I
Discover what makes your brain tick in this first module of a three-part introductory series in neuroscience.
Let’s face it: MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) promise disruption, and yet most of them to date deliver an extremely traditional learning experience. Basically, it’s the big-lecture-hall format, with an internet-sized lecture hall.
However, many of us in higher education never were happy about the big-lecture-hall format in the first place. Lecturing to an audience of hundreds is a impersonal experience for all involved; the interaction is usually almost completely unidirectional, and the material must be lowered to the lowest common denominator. Make no mistake: there are many professors who are masters of this format, who can inspire mass audiences. However, I’d wager that most of them still wish they could engage with their students in a smaller format. The big-hall lecture is a practical necessity, but it is in no way ideal. In many ways, the big lecture is academia’s dirty laundry; many of the most memorable experiences in a Harvard education come from smaller seminar experiences, not to mention interactions with peers.
Our goal is to reboot the MOOC and leverage the advantages of the internet, rather than just shoveling the same old lecture format onto the web. It’s going to be a long journey, and we’re almost certainly not going to get it right the first time, but we’re excited about the possibilities. We invite you to join us in this experiment and we welcome your feedback and help in making an online learning space that lives up to the hype.
ABOUT THIS COURSE:
MCB80x: Fundamentals of Neuroscience is a three part course that explores the structure and function of the nervous system — from the microscopic inner workings of a single nerve cell, to the staggering complexity of the brain, and beyond to the social interactions and societal dynamics that our brains make possible. We’ll take a look at how our nervous system enables every part of human experience — our senses, movement, personality, emotion — and how drugs and disease can alter and disrupt normal function.
In this first module (MCB80.1x) we’ll look at how individual neurons use electricity to transmit information. We’ll invite you to build up a neuron, piece by piece, using interactive simulations, and we’ll take you on field trips in and around Harvard and Boston, bring you into the lab, and show you how to conduct DIY neuroscience experiments on your own.
October 31th, 2013.