Frequently Asked Questions

Isn't "hands-on online" an oxymoron?

We don't think so! People build crazy things every single day using online resources. For instance, Nancy built a rideable hexapod based on instructions online. The only thing we're doing differently is giving some structure to it in the form of a syllabi and having lectures, as well as providing some technical rigor (explaining the theory behind the engineering).

OK, how do I join in?

We are actively developing the kits and content as you read this. Our initial offering will be to 50 students -- watch out for a kickstarter in July. In August the first version of the class will begin and run for six weeks (two weeks for each of the modules).

We are establishing a mailing list that will coordinate learner activities across a selection of online tools, letting you know when class activities are taking place and where to go to participate.

Why would you create this?

1) We want to prove the potential hands-on online learning. Governments worldwide are taking notice of the maker movement and partnernships like the Skoltech-MIT and Singapore University of Technology and Design-MIT show that students are demanding more hands-on content. 2) We hope that, once we are comfortable scaling this beyond 50 or 100 users, the price of the kits can be brought down even further. Our lofty goal is that this can reach students at universities and high schools with fewer resources than MIT or the name-brand universities in the United States. 3) We believe in open source hardware and hope that, with the community (students taking the class, even!) we can iterate and improve on the kit design as well.

Who is offering the class?

Two MIT mechanical engineers and a Cornell bioengineer.

Is this an MITx offering? A competing program?

Neither. We're independent of MITx and our core focus is on proving that hands-on online education can work and inspire people to pursure engineering either for fun (as a hobby) or as a career (or both!).

Do I get a certificate?

Nope, this is very much a free-form class. You can, however, earn badges of achievement for things like building a really cool iteration of the drawing robot or completing all the modules.

What good are the badges?

They are a shorthand for sharing your informal educational achievements on the Web, and a lot of smart people, including the good folks at Mozilla, are working hard to figure out how to make them more meaningful.

Can I use other sites and services with this course?

Absolutely. We encourage participants to bring in other tools, self-organize, and share what they are doing with the rest of the community. We’re tyring to learn here as well.

This site looks like the Mechanical MOOC. What's the deal?

Precisely! The Mechanical MOOC was built to, in their own words, be "a model that will empower many more open education projects to experiment with MOOC-like offerings." They offer up well-documented source code that we used to build this site. See the Mechanical MOOC FAQ and the Mechanical MOOC github page.