The electronics wonderkid from Ulan Bator
Mar 13, 2014 3 comments
One inspiring example of the power of online technology to break down global barriers to education is the story of Battushig Myanganbayar from Ulan Bator in Mongolia. In 2012, aged just 15, he took a free online course called "Circuits & Electronics" offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and surprised many people by achieving a perfect score. Myanganbayar has since moved to the US, where he has started an undergraduate degree at MIT that he hopes it will serve as a launch pad to a fruitful career in science.
In this video, Physics World journalist James Dacey visits MIT to meet Myanganbayar and find out more about this remarkable student. Myanganbayar explains that he wanted to learn about how devices such as the iPhone work but he had no experience of such topics through Mongolian state education. "Every time when I learn new stuff, every time when I'm working on a new project, I think about how it could bring happiness for people in the future and that gave me a lot of energy," he explains.
As if his personal achievements are not impressive enough, Myanganbayar has also created a series of videos on YouTube in which he explains some of the more difficult concepts from the MOOC in Mongolian, having translated them from the original English versions. In this film, Dacey also asks Myanganbayar about how he is finding the transition to a new culture and how he is settling into university life. Just as he did with the online electronics course, Myanganbayar seems to be taking everything in his stride and he talks about how he has developed a keen interest in photography since arriving at MIT.
The course on circuits and electronics that helped Myanganbayar secure his place at MIT is an example of a new development in education known as massive open online courses, or MOOCs. These short courses are free to anyone in the world with a suitable Internet connection and they typically combine video lectures with assignments such as problem sets and extended projects. The MIT electronics course is offered through an online platform known as edX, which was launched in 2012 thanks to initial investments by MIT and Harvard University. You can watch another short film, "Physics lab for the YouTube generation", about how the MIT physics department is now starting to incorporate the edX technologies into its undergraduate teaching programme.
"The electronics wonderkid from Ulan Bator" was produced in conjunction with the March 2014 issue of Physics World, which is a special issue about education. You can download a free PDF copy of the entire March special issue of Physics World.
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