Thanks for visiting our course page. Please note that all course material will always be accessible here, but if you want edX certificates for any part(s) of the course you must also register for MCB80.1x, MCB80.2x, or both, on edX. Thanks for your patience!
Module 2 of MCB80x is now live!
A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
Hello and welcome to MCB80x! Before we launch, we’d like to share with you our course syllabus and some information that will help manage your expectations in regards to content, scheduling, and capacity. We will have two courses running concurrently: a second version of our first part, MCB80.2x, and a first version of our second part, MCB80.2x.
Content and material for MCB80x.1x is currently available and open to you to study at your own pace and an exam period will last from 8/11/14 to 8/24/14. We will open MCB80.2x on September 3rd, 2014, and we will leave registration open throughout the duration of the course, which will end on January 7, 2015. A final interactive exam will be given for MCB80.2x from 12/08/2014 through 1/08/2015 for those of you who have completed the course (see explanation below). This means that anyone can ‘join’ the course at any time while the courses are running.
We will release a new lesson every two weeks from September 3rd (9/3, 9/7, 10/1, 10/15, and 10/29). Lessons will include video content, interactive content, virtual lab content, forum spaces associated with the lessons, and in Lessons 3 and 4, labs and lab content. You can complete all lessons at your own pace, but if you choose to follow along with the rollout, you’ll be able to engage with us and other students at roughly the same time in the forums.
Completion of lessons is determined by your movement through milestones within that lesson (i.e. by watching videos in full and completing interactive segments). You can move around within the lesson at your own pace; the only reason we ask you to complete the lessons is so that we can then determine whether or not you have completed enough of the course to be able to take a final interactive exam.
If you would like a certificate for parts of the course, you have to take the exam(s), and you will have to complete 75% of the lessons in order to take the exam. We will ask using the honor system how much of the course you have completed. You can track your lesson progress on your personalized dashboard every time you login.
Let's face it: MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) promise disruption, and yet most of them to date deliver an extremely traditional learning experience. Basically, it's the big-lecture-hall format, with an internet-sized lecture hall.
However, many of us in higher education never were happy about the big-lecture-hall format in the first place. Lecturing to an audience of hundreds is a impersonal experience for all involved; the interaction is usually almost completely unidirectional, and the material must be lowered to the lowest common denominator. Make no mistake: there are many professors who are masters of this format, who can inspire mass audiences. However, I'd wager that most of them still wish they could engage with their students in a smaller format. The big-hall lecture is a practical necessity, but it is in no way ideal. In many ways, the big lecture is academia's dirty laundry; many of the most memorable experiences in a Harvard education come from smaller seminar experiences, not to mention interactions with peers.
Our goal is to reboot the MOOC and leverage the advantages of the internet, rather than just shoveling the same old lecture format onto the web. It's going to be a long journey, and we're almost certainly not going to get it right the first time, but we're excited about the possibilities. We invite you to join us in this experiment and we welcome your feedback and help in making an online learning space that lives up to the hype.
In MCB80x, we're piloting a style of instruction that we call "Guided Interactivity", where in interactive simulations are seamlessly woven into the flow of instruction. We will walk you through the process of building up a neuron, piece by piece, allowing you to dynamically explore the function of the nervous system.
While lectures are tied to the physical environment lecture hall, the internet has no such limitations. With the internet, we can bring you into the laboratory, or to a museum, or to a doctor's office. Neuroscience happens in the world, and we want to take you to see it firsthand.
Humans have a natural desire to contribute. With MCB80x, we will invite students to conduct their own experiments at home and in their own schools, using DIY hardware from our partners at Backyard Brains. In addition to experiencing real experiments firsthand, students will be invited to film and contribute back their experiments.
MCB80x is largely a labor of love created by a small group of core staff, along with a larger group of creative professionals who generously contribute their time to making this course happen.
David Cox is an Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and of Computer Science, and is a member of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University. His laboratory seeks to understand the computational underpinnings of visual processing through concerted efforts in both reverse- and forward-engineering. To this end, his group employs a wide range of experimental techniques (ranging from microelectrode recordings in living brains to visual psychophysics in humans) to probe natural systems, while at the same time actively developing practical computer vision systems based on what is learned about the brain.
HarvardX Fellow, Producer
Nadja Oertelt is a HarvardX Fellow and producer for MCB80x. She graduated from MIT in 2007 with a degree in Neuroscience has studied visual arts, film, anthropology and archaeology. She has worked as an independent documentary producer and director for the past decade.
Winston Yan graduated from Harvard in 2010 with a degree in Physics and is currently a 3rd year student in the Harvard-MIT MD/PhD program. He has finished the first two years of medical school in the HST program and is about to start his PhD in the lab of Professor Feng Zhang at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT & Broad Institute. Winston will be working on developing and applying molecular and optical techniques to studying molecular and cellular changes in neural circuits during healthy behaviors, like learning and memory, and neuropsychiatric diseases.
Christian is a native of Southern Germany and spent his youth in the Lake Constance region bordering Switzerland and Austria. He completed his undergraduate education in Munich, Zurich, and Oxford, and received his PhD in Biological Chemistry from MIT in 2009. As a postdoctoral fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School, Christian trained in Neurobiology and Developmental Neurogenetics. He is currently working on elucidating the underlying human biology of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Bipolar Disorder. He's been the Head Teaching Fellow for the on-campus course MCB80 at Harvard since 2010.
Mohini Lutchman is a Lecturer in Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School where she teaches Anatomy in the Division of Medical Sciences (DMS) and Harvard Science and Technology (HST) programs and Anatomy, Physiology and Neurobiology in the New Pathway Program Anatomy at Harvard Medical School. She obtained a PhD in Neuroscience (Neurogenetics) from McGill University, Canada and completed her postdoctoral research training in cancer biology and her research has focused on cancer cell biology. Currently, she is involved in more translational research involving analysis of OFDI imaging data derived from a clinical trial at MGH. She is interested in the use of innovative education technologies for basic and medical sciences and has gained important insight from teaching online courses for MGHIHP and working with the MCB80x team.
Jennifer DeBoer is currently Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focuses on international education systems, technology use and STEM learning, and educational environments for diverse learners. Most recently, this has meant investigating the different ways in which students engage with MOOCS online and in person, and she is interested in better understanding how online and blended learning spaces can support individual learners. She recently finished her postdoc at MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory. Check out their website for her presentations and publications on national differences within MOOC classrooms, ways to (re)conceptualize MOOC learning spaces, and the role of individual student background characteristics: http://tll.mit.edu/tll-research.
Alex Auriema is the Chief Videographer at HarvardX and filmmaker based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His work has shown and screened at the Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst - Berlin, Scope Art Fair - Basel, and Harvard Film Archive - Cambridge. He holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Jennifer Kelley is a Boston based documentary filmmaker and editor. She received her undergraduate degree in Film and Television from Boston University and is currently an MFA student in the Media Art program at Emerson College. Her films examine matters related to human rights, social justice, gender equality and environmental responsibility.
Producer, Videographer + Editor
Beth Balaban is an independent video Producer and Editor in the Boston area. In addition to her work at HarvardX as a Producer for MCB80x, she is currently Co-Directing/Producing the feature documentary SON OF SAICHI in Fukushima, Japan. Beth is Co-Founder and Chair of the New England film collaborative The Non-Fiction Cartel. Previously, she worked with the Boston-based production team at Principle Pictures as a Producer, Editor and Director of Photography on several feature documentaries and an array of branded content for corporate/non-profit clients.
Sound Editor + Composer
Oswald Skillbard has been a composer and sound designer for five years. From his own studio in East London Skillbard has created bespoke scores and sounds for a range of media, most notably short films and animations. He also created the music for the MCB80x course.
3D Molecular Modeller
Ian got his PhD at the University of Southern California with Dr. Xiaojiang Chen studying molecular machines biochemically and solving their 3D structure. He is currently doing his postdoc at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.
Matteo Farinella is a cartoonist and illustrator, author of Neurocomic (Nobrow press). Matteo received a PhD in neuroscience from University College London in 2013 and he now works at the intersection between science and art, producing info-comics and scientific illustrations. He is also very passionate about education and he collaborates with several universities and scientific institution aimed to make research more fun and accessible.
Amanda Montañez is a Boston-area native and former Harvard employee. She has a lifelong passion for drawing and received her BA in Studio Art from Smith College in 2006. Her professional background includes non-profit and university administration, as well as freelance medical and scientific illustration. She is currently earning her Master’s degree in Biomedical Communications at the University of Toronto (to be completed in July 2014). For her thesis project, she is developing a series of educational tools for pregnant women in midwifery care. Amanda is interested in the effectiveness of visual communication in learning and hopes to explore this further in her future professional pursuits.
Daniela Sherer is an indie animator and illustrator. In 2013 she graduated from the Royal College of Art in London with a master's in Animation. She's a 2009 graduate of USC, LA. Daniela has worked on projects ranging from music videos and short films, to animated sequences for features and animation for the stage. Her animated films have won awards and have been exhibited in festivals worldwide.
Grace Helmer is an illustrator based in London, UK. She graduated with a degree in Illustration from Camberwell College of Arts, London in 2012. She currently works as a freelance illustrator and is a member of Day Job Studio (www.day-job.org).
Tim Divall is a 2d animator based in London. Since Graduating with an MA in animation from the RCA in 2013 and a BA in animation at University of Westminster in 2008 he has been lucky enough to work on a wide range of projects from creating short animated films to collaborating on music videos and commercials.
Ofra Kobliner is an animator and illustrator based in Jerusalem. She graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in 2010 with a degree in Animation. Her graduation film, In a Clear Mind, won the first prize at the ASIFA student film competition at the Comics and Animation Festival in Tel Aviv. It has been shown in film festivals worldwide, including the Hiroshima and Ottawa (OIAF). Since graduation, Ofra has been working as an independent illustrator and animator. She has illustrated numerous children’s books, and is currently working on and animated film production in collaboration with American novelist, Jonathan Safran Foer and Isreali writer Etgar Keret.
Greg is a DIY neuroscientist and co-founder of Backyard Brains. He and his labmate Tim Marzullo started the organization because people only really learned about neuroscience in grad school, even though 25% of the world had brain disorders with no cures. Neuroscience should be taught from K12 onwards! His goal is to develop tools and experiments to teach advanced neuroscience from middle school on up. Understanding the brain remains a great challenge, both to professional neuroscientists and the general public alike. Greg want to increase the public’s understanding of neuroscience, create a community of amateur neuroscientists, and usher in the next generation of neuroscientists.
© 2014 President and Fellows of Harvard College.