Adapting content for an online course in technical fields requires careful planning and execution to incorporate industry standard tools, promote engagement, and ensure a level playing field. Design teams need to consider fundamental differences in demographics and platform capabilities to optimize the learner experience in the online setting.

Instructors teaching on-campus courses benefit from their learners going through a common curriculum. They have a much better sense of their student’s knowledge and skills when they come to the course, and it is often possible to formally enforce prerequisites before a learner can enroll. The Learning Management System (LMS) is frequently treated as a platform to share files and send messages to learners, while primary instruction occurs through other channels.

Many instructors use their on-campus courses as the origin for an online course, but the material and teaching approach will not always translate. When teaching a course online, instructors must reckon with a heterogeneous population that may not have the same skills as learners in on-campus course. It is rare and often impossible to enforce prerequisites in online courses. The online learning platform is central to the learning experience; instruction occurs within the platform, therefore there is a need to be much more thoughtful about how to present content.

In technical fields, learners in online courses are further challenged by:

  • Expectations to write code for assignments, often with varied experience in programming background.
  • Lack of tools to explore concepts independently.
  • Time required to download, install, and configure software, often on various operating systems and versions.

MATLAB®, a programming and computation platform, can help alleviate the pains associated with heterogeneous audiences. It addresses disparities in experience and access, and provides resources that previously were available only to campus students. MATLAB offers:

  • Low code solutions tailored for a given domain.
  • Extensive library of apps for testing and understanding a problem before committing to coding it.
  • Excellent documentation with many domain-specific examples to follow
  • Web-based versions of tools that are instantly accessible and run seamlessly without installation or configuration.

MathWorks has supported edX and Open edX partners for nine years and became an edX partner in 2021 to offer courses on the platform. MathWorks provides comprehensive support for MOOCs and professional courses for instructors interested in integrating MATLAB into their courses.

Interested in seeing more? Join our free webinar on December 8th, 2022 at 10 AM (EDT) to see how MATLAB can be used in the Open edX environment, or contact MathWorks for more details (moocsupport@mathworks.com).

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