Mynerva

a new way to teach computational
science & engineering

what is mynerva?

Mynerva is a cloud-based computational textbook platform that is centered around the idea of a codex. Mynerva is the platform used for authoring, teaching, and distributing codices.

what is a codex?

Codices are a novel way to author lessons, homework and lab assignment, and even entire textbooks for teaching anything under the umbrella of computational sciences.

The code in codex is a nod to the interactive coding and programming element which is ubiquitous in the computational sciences. A typical codex contains exposition and math (like a traditional textbook) as well as interactive code that runs inline and computes solutions and outputs figures and plots. A codex extends the structure of a "traditional" book chapter into that of a living document and, from the student's perspective, responds like a game. Since structure deeply influences narrative, a codex influences and engenders new forms of conversational narrative based on computational interaction between the author and its reader - really, coder as the doer.

Every codex is punctuated with conceptual multiple-choice quizzes, auto-graded programming assignments, and/or a reflective free-response summary of the exposition. The codex guides the student one step at a time towards a working algorithm - built from scratch - by mixing exposition with just-in-time assessment and code checking. Typically, each codex begins with the math, links the concepts with relevant code segments, and finally brings the various pieces of the code together to showcase everything that the student has learned. For example, at the end of a codex a student will have coded their own algorithm able to recognize their own handwriting or stitch together a panorama given several photos.

Codices make a computational book feel alive and dynamic in a fundamentally new way. Each codex facilitates a deeper and holistic understanding of the subject matter and allows a student to not only learn about a concept, but experience it via coding, debugging, and deeper analysis.

can I try a codex?

can I author a codex?

We will roll out tools in early 2021 to allow others to author and publish computational textbooks this way. To receive a notification when a beta version of author tools are ready for use, please fill out the form here.

what are students saying?

This is one of the best things I've seen. I think it should replace textbooks for most programming classes
I liked the built–in conceptual questions and proofs and instant feedback because they helped me learn the concepts. I'd recommend other courses to adopt a similar system if it makes sense for them.

mynerva in action

A prototype of Mynerva has been used to teach Computational Data Science & Machine Learning at the University of Michigan as well as for guest lectures at MIT and other institutions.