Photo of balls scattering on a pool table.

Mechanics plays out on the pool table. (Courtesy of Brian DeMalo on Flickr.)

Coming soon to MITx on edX is a new kind of MOOC—a MOOC to help high school students better prepare for college. Many students who arrive at college find themselves struggling with the courses they must take, as their high school experience has not provided them with the necessary preparation to do well at college. Most current MOOC offerings already reflect the rigor of college instruction, and less well-prepared students struggle to take advantage of these exciting new learning experiences. Instead of jumping forward, they are frustrated from the start.

edX has taken steps to remedy this situation by creating the edX High School Initiative. Its goal is to address the student “readiness gap” and make MOOC learning at the college level easier for those in need of additional preparation. The hope is to “provide a path to life-long continuous education,” edX CEO Anant Agarwal said recently when announcing the Initiative.

edX will start off with 27 new online courses, including Advanced Placement® (AP®)* courses and other high school courses in a wide variety of subject areas.

Among the first offerings is 8.MechCx AP Physics C: Mechanics, which starts on January 8, 2015 and runs for 13 weeks. This is a college-level Introductory Newtonian Mechanics course that covers the topics and learning objectives specified in the syllabus of the College Board for an AP Physics, Mechanics C course. Emphasizing that all mechanics is about how forces change motion, the course covers Kinematics in Two Dimensions, Newton’s Laws, Mechanical Energy, Momentum, Rigid Body Rotation and Dynamics, and Angular Momentum. The goal is to help students learn and practice how experts in physics solve problems that are similar to problems on previous AP Examinations in Mechanics C.

The lead instructor for this course is MIT Professor David Pritchard, a pioneering atomic physicist who has applied his research abilities to the field of online learning for many years. He leads an education research group, Research in Learning, Assessing, and Tutoring Effectively. 8.MechCx is the fifth MOOC that this group has authored and run.

Students interested in taking 8.MechCx can give themselves a head start by checking out OCW’s Highlights for High School, our collection of open educational resources for high school students and teachers. The collection includes resources that are mapped to topics in the AP science curriculum, including physics.

— Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

* Advanced Placement and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board.