Expanded Access to Quantum Mechanics

Physics (Course 8)
Expanded Access to Quantum Mechanics
Barton Zwiebach
Digital Innovations & Tools
Flexible Course Delivery


MOOCs offer foundational material for infrequently offered courses, facilitating alternative deliveries & more opportunities for students to take the class.

Educational Challenges

MIT course 8.05 consumes a great number of resources, especially faculty time and energy. Because of this, it is traditionally offered only once a year.

Problem: Students would like to take the course more often.

Solution: Zwiebach used his MOOC 8.05x as source content for his residential MIT course 8.S05, and supplemented the material on the MOOC with mandatory twice-weekly recitations for the MIT students. This took considerably less effort for Zwiebach and allowed him to offer the 8.S05 version of his course on the ‘off’ semester. There were overwhelmingly positive responses:

  • Student are able to take the course when desired, not having to wait.
  • Students loved the online homework and immediate feedback.
  • The online videos allowed for flexible watching time and the ability to rewind and speed up. Learning from videos required self-discipline, but the class was primarily upperclassmen, and able to handle the added requirement.
  • When a colleague will teach the course next year, s/he can use or re-purpose the materials, problem-sets, videos, etc.

Key Take-Aways

MOOCs are a useful resource in face-to-face classes for:

  • Providing flexibility in course delivery.
  • Housing a repository of materials that can be re-used in subsequent iterations of the course.

If you are interested in using the concepts from this case study in your teaching, please contact MITx Residential to speak with a consultant.