Slide from online lecture, and interactive programming exercise

XTutor is a toolkit for creating online courses. It is being developed at MIT, and it is scheduled for public release beginning summer 2005.

iCampus is now distributing the complete materials for two MIT courses that use a preliminary version of XTutor. iCampus also maintains free and open web services that let you try these materials on your own or use them for teaching classes. This distribution is being done in collaboration with MIT OpencourseWare and with the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Online courses

iCampus provides the complete lectures, exams, problem sets, and supplementary materials for two of MIT’s most popular Computer Science subjects:

  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs is MIT’s main introductory subject in computer science, based around the fundamental principles of abstraction and modularity. For this course, there is a complete textbook available free online from the MIT Press.

    Click here for the iCampus online offering
    of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs.

  • Artificial Intelligence is MIT’s core AI course, which covers the basics of intelligent systems: knowledge representation, problem solving, and learning.

    Click here for the iCampus online offering
    of Artificial Intelligence.

In addition to texts and notes, the complete lectures for each of these subjects are presented as audio recordings with transcripts. There is also a full semester of interactive homework assignments implemented with our prototype toolkit. Problem formats range from simple multiple choice and fill-ins, to programming assignments with automatic checking of results, and machine-checked formal proofs in the AI course. The system also includes an administrative interface that lets instructors monitor their students’ performance and progress. iCampus is hosting these facilities on its Web servers, for free use by students who want to gain familiarity with these courses, and for faculty who want to use them in their own teaching.

These materials have been used at MIT since the fall of 2000, with several thousand students. Educational assessment studies have indicated that student learning and performance using the online format is better than live lecture presentation for both concepts and detailed skill learning.


XTutor is an extensible toolkit for easy customization of online courses. Course content is embodied as a collection of XML documents called XDocs. These are written using tags that define common problem formats. The tag language allows users to define new tags and namespaces and provides handlers that determine processing rules for generating XHTML and for checking user submissions. The toolkit should be available for general use starting summer 2005.

Click here for advance information on the toolkit.