MOOC Mania

The newest pervasive buzz acronym in Academic is MOOC, or Massive Online Open Courseware. Under the strong direction of President Mo Qayoumi, Provost Ellen Junn, and AVP for Academic Technology Catheryn Cheal, San Jose State has become an early adopter, or explorer, of the MOOC universe. The first foray into this arena involved a partnership between the College of Engineering and ED-X, the Massachusetts startup that has developed online courses with faculty at MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkeley. The SJSU Department of Electrical Engineering Course EE 98, Introduction to Circuit Analysis, was developed as a flipped course where students watched the MIT Edx online lectures for course content, and spent their class periods working together with faculty and other students on group problem solving. This approach showed dramatic improvements in student performance, with the pass rate increasing from 60% for the conventional lecture class to 81% for the flipped class, along with a 10% improvement in class test score averages.

This semester, SJSU is partnering with another MOOC Startup, Mountain View’s Udacity, to teach three classes, two from our Department of Mathematics in remedial math and introductory algebra, respectively, and a third course on introductory statistics offered through the Department of Psychology. These courses are available for both SJSU students and the general public at a reduced price for college credit, and can also be viewed for free by those who do not want to take the courses for credit.

One question that has come up often with these online classes is how this different delivery mode effects student learning. In conjunction with  the Udacity courses, we have received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Gates Foundation to assess student learning and faculty effort in this delivery mode. These studies, which will be conducted by external contractor the RP Group, will form an important part of scholarship on this emerging mode of course delivery. We are moving ahead with preparing a number of other online courses with both EdX and Udacity, with new offerings to be rolled out as soon as fall of 2013.


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