A university student graduating from a four-year programme would be expected to have acquired the body of existing knowledge that would serve him/her in his/her workplace.
The graduate would also be expected to have developed the abilities to resolve problems that come up in the workplace.
The body of knowledge grows by the day and there have been suggestions in some countries that a four-year programme is not adequate for someone to acquire the basic knowledge for registration as a professional engineer.
There is the belief that, in addition to the period of practical experience, the graduate should also obtain a master’s degree to qualify for registration. Given the competition for available jobs in Nigeria, a master’s degree is also considered as giving an advantage to someone seeking an entry-level position.
There is also in most professions a requirement for one to develop by acquiring knowledge throughout one’s working career. Put simply, the body of knowledge one should acquire for one’s profession is not static.
There are periods such as the present when the teachers are not available in the public universities. The private universities also use some teachers that are available for specified periods.
What can parents do to encourage their wards to acquire the knowledge the wards would require? Educational resources are available on the internet at no cost to the user from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, Cambridge, USA.
The MIT OpenCourseWare, OCW, was introduced in 2002 and MIT OCW makes the course materials that are used in teaching almost all of MIT’s subjects available on the web, free of charge. The web address is http://ocw.mit.edu and parents should direct their wards to this address.
Currently, courses that cover both undergraduate and graduate levels and all 33 academic departments are available on OCW. The departments are Aeronautics and Astronautics, Anthropology, Architecture, Athletics Physical Education and Recreation, Biological Engineering, Biology, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Comparative Media Studies, Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Economics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering Systems Division, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Health Sciences and Technology, History, Linguistics and Philosophy, Literature, Materials Science and Engineering, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Media Arts and Sciences, Music and Theatre Arts, Nuclear Science and Engineering, Physics, Political Science, Science Technology and Society, Sloan School of Management, Urban Studies and Planning, Women’s and Gender Studies, Writing and Humanistic Studies.
There are also OCW Scholar courses for independent learners. These courses contain enhanced materials than in the corresponding MIT course with the content arranged in logical sequences for self-paced learning.
Subjects covered are Fundamentals of Biology, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science I, Single Variable Calculus, Multivariable Calculus, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Physics I: Classical Mechanics, Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism, Physics III: Vibrations and Waves, Engineering Dynamics and Probabilistic Systems Analysis. There are also courses for secondary school students in Biology, Calculus, Chemistry and Physics and which courses adequately cover the requirements of the Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
MIT and Harvard University have set up edX which offers tuition-free online classes to all comers using an open-source teaching platform developed at MIT. The classes include video lessons, discussion forums as well as virtual laboratories where students can carry out simulated experiments. The University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas system have joined edX.
Courses available through edX and from MIT are 3.091x – Introduction to Solid State Chemistry, 6.002x – Circuits and Electronics, 6.00x – Introduction to Computer Science and Programming.
Harvard University courses on edX are C550x – Introduction to Computer Science, PH207x – Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research while courses from the University of California at Berkeley include CS184.1x – Foundations of Computer Graphics and CS169.1x and CS169.2x – Software as service.
The question that is often asked is why is MIT giving away these educational resources free. MIT is driven by a sense of obligation to maximize human potential everywhere.
There are difficult challenges that should be tackled by knowledgeable persons in such areas as sustainable development, climate change, malaria eradication and cancer eradication. Our students should therefore be knowledgeable.