Featured Course Archive: January-March 2009



March 30, 2009: Visualizing Cultures

Visualizing Cultures has won this year's Franklin R. Buchanan prize from the Association for Asian Studies.

The prize recognizes an outstanding curriculum publication on Asia designed for any educational level. Visualizing Cultures was launched in 2002 to explore the potential of the Web for developing innovative image-driven scholarship and learning.



March 23, 2009: The Sixth Sense

At this year's TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), MIT professor Pattie Maes demonstrated a "sixth sense device." The small, low-cost device enables wearers to interact between the real world and the world of data.

For more on the complexities of human-computer interaction, try Ambient Intelligence, a graduate-level course that focuses on understanding enabling technologies and studying applications and experiments.



March 17, 2009: Digital Death and the Nerd Kit

6.111 Introductory Digital Systems Laboratory: Often called "digital death" by MIT students, this course is reputed to be one of the most demanding classes at MIT. The course covers digital design topics such as digital logic, sequential building blocks, finite-state machines, FPGAs, timing and synchronization, and comes with a "nerd kit" for completing labs and projects.



March 12, 2009: Energy, Environment, and Society

The 4th annual student-led Energy Conference gathered technologists, investors, entrepreneurs, policy makers and energy professionals who are defining our global energy future. The conference site has links to the proceedings and presentations.

5.92 Energy, Environment, and Society provides first- year students a way to make direct contributions to energy innovations at MIT and in local communities through a project-based approach to learning.



March 9, 2009: Diana Henderson Named MacVicar Fellow

Diana Henderson, professor of literature and dean for curriculum and faculty support, has been named a MacVicar fellow in recognition for her innovative teaching practices and accomplishments. One of her students told the nominating committee, "She doesn't lecture, she engages."

Henderson's Studies in Drama: Stoppard and Churchill asks difficult, provocative questions about two British dramatists who are themselves, often, difficult and provocative.


Photo by Monica Kahn for The Tech.

March 6, 2009: Battle of the Jewish Pastries

On Wednesday, March 4, six MIT professors gathered for the Seventh Annual Latke-Hamentashen Debate, a lively event that examines the virtues and shortcomings of the latke and the hamentashen. As in years past, the debate resulted in a deadlock and must begin anew next year.

All seven professors taking part in the debate have courses on MIT OpenCourseWare:

Hazel Sive, Professor of Biology

Team Hamentashen:
Tom Leighton PhD '81, Professor of Applied Mathematics
Jeffrey I. Steinfeld '62, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry
Jeremy M. Wolfe PhD '81, Lecturer in BCS & Concourse

Team Latke:
David Jones, Professor in STS
Keith Nelson, Professor of Chemistry
Donald Sadoway, Professor of Materials Chemistry



March 2, 2009: Acoustics of Speech and Hearing

Researchers at MIT's Sensory Communication Group are working on a new generation of tactile devices, which translate sound waves into vibrations that can be felt by the skin. These devices can help fill gaps left by lip reading.

For more on the science of sound, try 6.551J / HST.714J Acoustics of Speech and Hearing.



February 26, 2009: Nano-origami

A team of researchers led by George Barbastathis, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is developing the basic principles of "nano-origami," a new technique that allows engineers to fold nanoscale materials into simple 3-D structures.

For more on modeling 3-D micro-electrical-mechanical structure, try Barbastathis's 2.004 Systems, Modeling, and Control II, Fall 2007.



February 24, 2009: SP.287 Kitchen Chemistry

Patricia Christie has been teaching Kitchen Chemistry every spring since 2000. In an interview with the MIT News Office, Christie explains how her course teaches students the chemistry behind cooking (and whips up a batch of Death by Chocolate cookies).


Photo courtesy of lakelandlocal at flickr.

February 19, 2009: MIT Alumni Companies Generate Billions for Regional Economies

The Kauffman Foundation released a study this week stating that if "the active companies founded by MIT graduates formed an independent nation, their revenues would make that nation at least the seventeenth-largest economy in the world." In Massachusetts alone, companies founded by MIT alumni represent 26 percent of the sales of all Massachusetts companies.

What does it take to organize successful technology-driven innovation in entrepreneurial firms? Find out in 15.351 Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship.



February 17, 2009: Tracking a Disease with a PDA

Joaquin Blaya, a PhD student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology has introduced the use of PDAs at a health care clinic in Lima, Peru to help workers there track testing for drug-resistant forms of TB. "You can monitor patients in a more timely way. It also prevents results from getting lost," says Blaya.

Blaya started the project after taking one of MIT's D-Lab courses. The most recent D-Lab on OCW is Disseminating Innovations for the Common Good, Spring 2007.



February 10, 2009: 7.06 Cell biology

A 10-year, $100 million grant from the Phillip T. and Susan M. Ragon Institute Foundation will bring together scientists and engineers from MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard in a bold new initiative to develop an AIDS vaccine.

Key MIT faculty involved in the Ragon Institute will include Hidde Ploegh, who teaches Cell Biology. The course deals with the biology of cells of higher organisms.



February 6, 2009: A Truly Classic Course

Samuel Gasster (MIT class of 1977) recently discovered that he still had his carefully copied lecture notes from Applied Geometric Algebra, Spring 1976. The course was taught by Professor of Physics Emeritus László Tisza who, at age 101, graciously agreed to publish these materials on MIT OpenCourseWare.



February 2, 2009: Are you curious?

The Cambridge Science Festival and the MIT Museum are daring students between the ages of 5 and 18 years old to take the Curiosity Challenge.

Curious future scientists and innovative technologists can find more resources at MIT OpenCourseWare's Highlights for High School. Build stuff, study for AP exams, or check out courses developed for high school students by MIT students.


Photo courtesy of billerickson on Flickr.

January 27, 2009: MIT Sloan Teaching Innovation Resources

MIT Sloan has launched a web site offering case studies, teaching videos and other innovative instructional resources to anyone with access to the Internet. The site was developed to provide access to MIT Sloan's most current work and developments at no charge.

15.963 Advanced Strategy on MIT OpenCourseWare uses one of the newly-available case studies in a survey of the roots of long-term competitive advantage in unusually successful firms. You can see the case study used in context in session 16 in the Readings section.



January 26, 2009: 17.523 Ethnicity and Race in World Politics

Two researchers at MIT - Charles H. Stewart III and Stephen Ansolabehere of the Department of Political Science - have found that race played a significant role in the election of Barack Obama. The research suggests that Obama won, in part, because the percentage of blacks voting Democratic rose from 88 percent in 2004 to 95 percent in 2008, and because of a significant move by Hispanics to the Democratic camp.

For a look at race and ethnicity in the larger context of politics around the world, try Melissa Nobles's 17.523 Ethnicity and Race in World Politics.



January 22, 2009: 11.201 Gateway: Planning Action

Xavier de Souza Briggs, associate professor of sociology and urban planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has been named associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Briggs's 11.201 Gateway: Planning Action, Fall 2007 provides a rich foundation in City Planning for first-year graduate students. The course uses real-world cases to highlight persistent dilemmas in city planning.


Image courtesy of the National Media Museum.

January 20, 2009: Darwin Bicentennial

MIT will mark the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin this week with a conference January 22 - 24. Learn more about Darwin's controversial and groundbreaking work in 21L.448J Darwin and Design, Fall 2003.



January 15, 2009: Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL)

The New York Times has featured MIT's new approach to introductory physics, in which students meet in small, high-tech classrooms to understand the basics of classical mechanics and electromagnetism. These courses are available on OCW: 8.01T Physics I, Fall 2004, and 8.02T Electricity and Magnetism, Spring 2005.



January 12, 2009: Bright Young Minds

Three MIT economists - Esther Duflo, Amy Finkelstein and Iván Werning - have been singled out by The Economist magazine as among the world's eight best young economists, who are "making a big splash in their discipline and beyond."

Duflo's 14.74 Foundations of Development Policy covers the different facets of human development: education, health, gender, the family, land relations, risk, informal and formal norms and institutions.

In 14.471 Public Economics I covers a wide variety of tax-related topics, including ax incidence, optimal tax theory, the effect of taxation on labor supply and savings.



January 5, 2009: 8.01 Classical Mechanics

MIT freshman Ben Gulak has invented the Uno, an electric motorcycle that has its two wheels side by side. It balances using a computer and gyroscope, and maneuvers as the rider's body shifts. Learn more about how gyroscopes work in lecture 24 of 8.01 Classical Mechanics.