How a Mongolian 15-year-old aced an MIT circuits course

The NYT discusses how fifteen-year-old Mongolians can take courses at MIT via MOOCs. Interesting on a variety of levels.

The New York Times recently carried an interesting item about a 15-year-old Mongolian who, among other things, attended a pretty difficult circuits course given by MIT which was offered via MOOC (massively open online course).

To quote the NYT, ".....Battushig, then 15, became one of 340 students out of 150,000 to earn a perfect score in Circuits and Electronics, a sophomore-level class at M.I.T. and the first Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC — a college course filmed and broadcast free or nearly free to anyone with an Internet connection.......How does a student from a country in which a third of the population is nomadic, living in round white felt tents called gers on the vast steppe, ace an M.I.T. course even though nothing like this is typically taught in Mongolian schools? The answer has to do with Battushig’s extraordinary abilities, of course, but also with the ambitions of his high-school principal...........Battushig was one of 20 students, ranging in age from 13 to 17, to enroll in the class. About half dropped out. The course is difficult in any setting — M.I.T. sophomores often pull all-nighters — and the Mongolian students were taking it in a second language. Battushig, however, thrived."

It is a pretty interesting piece. It also brings up an important question: If it becomes easy to take courses from elite schools via MOOCs, what happens to the rest of the educational establishment? One answer: Lot's of unemployed mediocre teachers.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 30, 2013

Internet university education is in theory, fabulous. The facts however show that most on-line education is a massive money maker for the offering Universities but that few of the students using these services are successful. Most drop out and lose their fees. In this case, there was a teacher overseeing the students progress and it obviously worked well but if it hadn't, then with ancestors like Attila the Hun, corrective action might have been taken with MIT.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 1, 2013

The largest university in our state just spent $50MM on a "student union".

Not too far in the future, most students will recognize the epic proportions of capital misallocation in the US University 'System' and find other ways to develop the knowledge and skills to make for a productive life.

While it is a outlier story about the whiz in Mongolia, I still find it despicable that our university system is unable, if not covertly culpable, to produce large quantities of engineering/scientific American graduates. After spending $225k+ on my three students, based on their 'enthusiasm' of response about teachers, administratiors, material presented, etc, I find myself wishing for that time machine to go back 6 years ... give them the money directly and tell them to go into the job market without college. They would be far better ahead.

For parents thinking about college for you kids...get involved...and get your kids thinking about how they will make a buck when they get out.

Caveat Emptor!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 4, 2013

Amen! Universities exist to glorify and edify professors, education is the secondary, necessary evil.

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Leland serves as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design. He has 34 years of Service and holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan, a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of...
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