FAQs: SJSU’s Tech Upgrade

Two years ago, San Jose State University launched a five-year, $28 million technology initiative. A detailed progress report is summarized in this quick reference guide.

What is the “Next Generation Technology” initiative?

A five-year plan, launched in 2012, to upgrade SJSU’s technology infrastructure to a level necessary to meet the basic needs of students, faculty and staff members, and the campus community.

Why is it needed?

SJSU’s technology infrastructure had become outdated, inadequate and inefficient. This was not a sudden revelation; numerous campus committees had studied the issue for years. While there was a general understanding that the campus’s technology assets were inadequate, there was no strategy or plan to address this deficiency.

Define “inadequate.”

Students, faculty and staff complained about the lack of basic technology for classrooms, meeting spaces and computer labs. The campus relied on five telephone systems, two nearing obsolescence. WiFi access was slow, unreliable and unavailable in many parts of campus.

NEW! What are the educational benefits of the new technology?

  • Fourteen classrooms have been upgraded, including six classrooms featuring video lecture-capture and video conferencing technology. These tools allow faculty to record lectures for students and to bring guest lecturers and other experts “into” the classroom. More than 30 faculty members and their students are now using these rooms.
  • Additional equipment has been purchased and is on site, ready to upgrade more classrooms.  Academic Affairs is working with faculty members to identify needs for specific rooms.
  • TelePresence helps instructors bring the world to their students by connecting the class to industry experts. WebEx helps faculty members and students collaborate. Both of these collaboration tools help instructors to record teachable moments for students, moments students can revisit later online. These tools also expand our notion of what it means to be in class to include a classroom on campus, a virtual classroom, or a hybrid of the two.
  • See what SJSU professors are saying about the new technology.

UPDATED! What is the status of the 51 new classrooms?

  • SJSU set the goal of 51 new classrooms based on the number of codec devices (video streaming devices) the network could support for video conferences and lecture-capture recordings. Fifty-one codec devices were purchased and are on site at SJSU, installed or ready for installation. The codec devices can be used in classrooms and meeting rooms. New software means SJSU’s network can now support more than 51 codec devices simultaneously, if the need arises.
  • Codecs have been installed in 14 classrooms and 11 conference rooms and offices. More will be installed after Academic Affairs surveys learning spaces and creates priorities. Three mobile units are available for short-term use on campus. To request a conference room update, classroom update, or mobile unit, contact the IT Help Desk (408-924-1530, ithelpdesk@sjsu.edu).
  • Faculty members are using classrooms and conference rooms outfitted with the new tech tools. Based on their experiences, these instructors will provide critical input that will be incorporated into plans for additional rooms over the next three years.
  • In the end, more than 51 classrooms may well be enhanced with varying degrees of technology. Plans will evolve to meet needs and available solutions.

NEW! What are the benefits of the new telephone system?

  • The new telephone system replaces five independent, aging systems with an Internet-based (so-called voice-over-IP, or VoIP) unified communication system.
  • The new system integrates with mobile devices and desktop computers.
  • “Reach-me-anywhere” features give each faculty and staff member the freedom to select the device that best meets his or her needs.
  • Faculty and staff members have three choices: a telephone handset with video; a telephone handset without video, and/or telephone software (Jabber).
  • No one is required to have a video telephone. Everyone has the option of skipping the telephone handset altogether and using software instead to access a work telephone line through a cell phone, desktop or laptop computer.
  • The IT Help Desk (408-924-1530, ithelpdesk@sjsu.edu) offers telephone system training and helps employees switch handsets.
  • The new telephone system will allow SJSU to integrate emergency communications through all campus, classroom and office telephones as well as digital signage.
  • It should be noted that many SJSU departments now have lower telephone bills. You’ll find more information on this below.

NEW! How do students, faculty and staff tap into all these resources?

  • The Division of Academic Affairs offers faculty members many opportunities to learn about technology and technology-enhanced pedagogy through the Academic Technology office, the Center for Faculty Development, and college-level initiatives. Faculty members can also access a variety of online resources through Academic Technology, the Center for Faculty Development, and IT Services. King Library supplements these activities.
  • Web conferencing (WebEx) services via most devices is available to all faculty, staff and students anywhere the Internet is accessible, including all classrooms, meeting rooms and offices.
  • IT Services hosts annual expos. This year, planning began in March. The expo was held in October. The event showcased technology solutions designed to help the entire university community. Faculty members learned about opportunities to enhance the instructional environment. Staff members and students learned about collaboration technologies that can raise productivity and help students better manage the learning process.
  • Everyone can check this ITS website for a list of rooms equipped with Next Generation technology for classes and meetings. These spaces offer current, reliable infrastructure, including state-of-the-art video conferencing (TelePresence) as well as audio, visual and lecture-capture technology to enhance collaboration and communication between students and instructors. Recorded sessions are available for review almost immediately.

What more has been accomplished?

  • In the past two years, the campus network capacity has tripled. During the first week of fall term 2014, the number of devices connecting to SJSU’s network was more than double that of the previous year. Total wireless traffic the same week nearly tripled from 1,239 GB to 3,400 GB. The average daily number of concurrent computing devices connected to WiFi at SJSU increased from 4,626 devices in 2013 to 14,500 devices in 2014.
  • Even with over 14,000 devices connected simultaneously to WiFi, the SJSU network is not at maximum capacity. SJSU believes the concurrent connectivity for any other CSU campus is 12,000 devices. In addition, SJSU is expanding the network to cover outdoor common areas.
  • After years of complaints, students, faculty, staff, and visitors are now able to access the Internet wirelessly from almost anywhere on campus.  This is especially significant in SJSU’s residence halls, home to 3,600 people who previously had very limited Internet access. WiFi is now available in all University Housing student rooms. Students report seeing Internet speeds over 100 megabits.
  • Since fall 2012, over 100 computer labs on campus have been refreshed with 1,600 new computers and laptops as well as 1,500 new monitors. IT Services is now replacing outdated faculty and staff computers.
  • Data security and support services have been enhanced. This is less noticeable to the naked eye, but critically important in an age of increased data security threats.

UPDATED! How was the Next Generation technology strategy developed?  Did faculty members play a role in developing this strategy?

Representatives from Academic Affairs were involved in the decision-making process from the start. However, this method did not result in consultation with the full faculty. Academic Affairs is now surveying all classrooms to determine all needs including technology.

SJSU is collecting information on how the Next Generation classrooms are being used. Examples of pedagogy, student testimonials and assessment will be shared with the entire campus community at the end of fall term.

Here is how SJSU developed the Next Generation initiative:

In fall 2011, SJSU held 49 town hall meetings to discuss its future. Technology was a recurring theme. Input from these sessions became the basis for a five-year campus strategic plan. One of its five priorities was “agility through technology.”

The town hall meetings were widely publicized and open to anyone. Faculty members participated. Faculty members were also involved in the development of SJSU’s Academic Plan, which further refined our thinking about technology needs.

From 2012 to 2014, a series of meetings provided participants with the opportunity to discuss the Next Generation strategy and technologies:

  • The Academic Affairs leadership team participated in 10 planning meetings in 2012.
  • The provost hosted three open forums that included tech updates and Q&A sessions.
  • Academic Affairs representatives participated in six meetings of the Vision 2017 Agility Through Technology Committee.
  • IT staff participated in more than 20 planning meetings in 2012 and 2013.

IT open forums, college meetings and faculty committee meetings continue to offer updates and Q&A sessions as well as opportunities to provide input.

UPDATED! Why was Cisco chosen?

In 2012, all CSU campuses, including SJSU were using Cisco networking products including routers and switches.

Shortly after President Qayoumi’s arrival in summer 2011, the SJSU IT Governing Board identified its top 10 IT priorities to enable improved teaching, learning and process efficiencies for SJSU within three to five years. The campus then began to identify possible approaches to deliver effective solutions.

SJSU began by studying options available through the Chancellor’s Office. At meetings on and off-campus, chancellor’s representatives worked closely with San Jose State officials to explore conditions at SJSU, review options available through the Chancellor’s Office, and discover other ways to meet the needs of SJSU students, faculty and staff. SJSU determined options offered by the Chancellor’s Office would not meet its needs within the prescribed time frame.

SJSU then looked at the feasibility of utilizing external vendors. The feasibility of a single-vendor approach and a best-of-breed (putting together our own system by choosing components from different vendors) approach were evaluated.

Single-vendor approach

  • integrated technology solutions proven at many organizations
  • coordinated deployment and upgrade paths established by the vendor
  • single point of escalation for technology support problems
  • reduced risk in terms of depending on available SJSU staff knowledge for support
  • may not deliver latest technology features in every infrastructure area

Best-of-breed approach

  • optimized technology solutions for each infrastructure area
  • reduced risk in terms of single vendor going out of business
  • required campus integration between different vendor solutions
  • multiple points of escalation for problem resolution
  • higher reliance on SJSU staff to resolve configuration and compatibility issues
  • typically, more time needed to deploy technology solutions

SJSU selected a single-vendor approach providing Cisco products and services for the following reasons: Cisco was a recognized leader in the wired and wireless networking space; Cisco offered an integrated solution; the single-vendor approach meshed well with available campus staffing and skill sets; and the single-vendor approach met SJSU’s delivery timeline.

To move the campus forward deliberately and quickly, SJSU formed the Next Generation Technology Project, with the goal of creating a pathway to a robust and vibrant IT environment that aligned with the “agility through technology” goal in SJSU’s Strategic Plan and the infrastructure technology needs outlined in the university’s Academic Plan.

It is worth noting that products and services for this project are not purchased directly from Cisco. Cisco sells its products and services through authorized distributors. The CSU had contracted with AT&T to buy Cisco products and services for many years, including products installed at SJSU. SJSU has contracted with Nexus to buy Cisco products and services.  Most, but not all, of the components of SJSU’s network infrastructure are from Cisco.

Did Cisco make donations to SJSU?

Cisco made donations totaling $839,951 from 2006 to 2013.  The majority of these gifts went to the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, supporting the MESA Engineering Program, student scholarships, peer advisors and many student organizations including the Society of Latino Engineers and Scientists, the Black Alliance of Scientists and Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers.

In addition, Cisco made a $2,000 gift to SJSU to sponsor a table at the Inauguration Banquet for President Qayoumi. Cisco was one of six entities that sponsored tables at the event.

On a related note, Cisco invited President Qayoumi to speak at a technology conference in Australia and therefore paid for the president’s airfare. This was not a vacation; it was a three-day business trip.

Why wasn’t there a competitive bidding process?

Cisco was chosen through an approved no-bid process because extensive research showed SJSU was entering into a contract for pricing that was 60 percent below market rates and because SJSU wanted to move quickly given the campus was in dire need, particularly with respect to WiFi, computer labs, and data security.

State law permits public agencies to work with single vendors as long as the agencies demonstrate good-faith efforts to secure a fair price. SJSU negotiated deeper discounts for Cisco products and services than other public agencies that had used competitive bidding for similar services. This was well documented in project plans.

The Chancellor’s Office reviewed and approved SJSU’s solicitation plan, in compliance with state law and CSU policy. With these safeguards in place, and given the many years SJSU’s technology needs had been neglected, it made sense to proceed.

UPDATED! Why isn’t SJSU working with the CSU’s networking provider, Alcatel-Lucent?

There was no CSU agreement in place with Alcatel-Lucent when SJSU’s tech project commenced. In a December 2013 memorandum from the Chancellor’s Office to all CSU campuses, Executive Vice Chancellor Quillian wrote “San Jose State is exempted from adopting [Alcatel-Lucent as its network provider]. The campus’ significant, recent investment with a different provider took place prior to the agreement with Alcatel-Lucent.”

The chancellor’s Common Network Initiative (CNI) is focused on the replacement of end-of-life routers, switches, and firewalls. SJSU required far more than replacement parts. The network needed to be expanded, wireless access improved and expanded, the phone system replaced, and academic technology modernized.

If SJSU waited for the Chancellor’s Office’s CNI solution, SJSU would have been required to purchase these items separately (including significant costs to expand the campus wireless network), would not have had the benefit of network upgrades for an additional year, and would not have received the benefits of a unified technology network. SJSU was also concerned about timing. As of fall 2014, it appears CNI has assisted with replacements at just five campuses.

UPDATED! How much has SJSU spent on this? What is SJSU getting for such a big investment?

As of Oct. 1, 2014, SJSU has spent $25.2 million. The project has many concurrent initiatives:

  • security, $1,222,111
  • telephone systems, $3,329,405
  • network, $11,570,862 (This is greater than the original estimate of $9.5 million. The difference covered the replacement of a large number of autonomous networks discovered later on campus.)
  • classroom and video technology, $6,883,230 (This includes both classroom hardware and software licenses for services such as WebEx, Jabber and TelePresence. These tools are available to all students, faculty and staff.)
  • laptop and desktop computers, $346,240
  • servers, web, and professional development, $1,804,209
  • total, $25,156,058

It should be noted that many SJSU departments now have lower telephone bills. Prior to July 2013, SJSU’s IT unit recovered costs for telecommunications by charging campus units a monthly telephone line fee and actual toll charges (local and long distance).

In addition, campus units were charged for moves, adds, and changes to existing services. All telephone lines bore fees, regardless of fund source. General Fund units paid a $5 per month line fee and self-support/auxiliary units paid a $25 per month line fee.

The university funded the differential line fees. Network fees were determined on a case-by-case basis. With the new phone system, state-support campus units will no longer be billed for telecom or network services that are identified as baseline services.

How was the tech upgrade funded?

Through equal contributions from three sources: the Continuing Education Reserve Fund (CERF); the lease and eventual sale of campus broadband capacity; and campus operating funds.

What about student fees?

A portion of the Student Success, Excellence and Technology Fee (SSETF) is set aside for ongoing technology investments.

There are rumors of missing technology equipment. Is that true?

On Oct. 1, the University Police Department arrested Jose Javier Farias on suspicion of burglary and embezzlement of university property. Farias, a university employee, was booked into Santa Clara County jail. He later posted bail and was released.  The police investigation that began in March is continuing. University police encourages anyone with potentially relevant information to contact UPD at 408-924-2222. The university is pursuing recovery of the missing equipment.


Chronicle of Higher Education: San Jose State U. Adopts More edX Content for Outsourcing Trial

Posted by the Chronicle of Higher Education Jan. 30, 2014.

By Steve Kolowich

San Jose State University’s experiment with online video lectures featuring professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—by way of edX, the nonprofit provider of massive open online courses—produced some promising early results. In the fall of 2012, students in two traditional sections of an introductory electrical-engineering course earned passing grades at rates of 57 percent and 74 percent, respectively. In an experimental third section, which was “flipped” to incorporate the MIT videos, the pass rate was 95 percent.

So what’s happened since? San Jose State has remained in the spotlight, but interest in the outcomes of a second and a third trial has taken a back seat to big-picture battles over the role of outside content providers in technology-intensive classrooms.

The university has not released data from last year’s experiments with the MIT content. But slides from a presentation that edX’s president, Anant Agarwal, gave to edX members at a private conference in November showed the outcome of the second trial, which happened in the spring of 2013, edX said.

Read the full story.

SJSU/Udacity Update: Spring 2014

SJSU/Udacity: Spring 2014 Update

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – This spring, San Jose State will offer three online courses that were developed with Udacity to SJSU and California State University students.

San Jose State students are registering now for Elementary Statistics, Introduction to Programming and General Psychology. In addition, the programming and statistics courses will be open to all CSU students through the CSU’s CourseMatch program.

SJSU and CSU students who successfully complete the coursework will receive college credit. The cost will be covered by regular tuition. Udacity has made the content open and free to faculty members, and will receive no payments or revenue from this arrangement.

The SJSU instructors who originally developed the programming and psychology courses with Udacity will continue to teach these classes to SJSU and CSU students this spring. The statistics course will be transitioned to a different SJSU instructor in the same department. SJSU will hire and train teaching assistants as needed. All faculty members and students will use SJSU’s learning management system, Canvas.

Enrollment will be capped at 70 students for the statistics class, 150 students for the programming course and 35 students for the general psychology course. At least half of the seats for programming and statistics will go to SJSU students and the rest will go to CSU students.

San Jose State and Udacity established a partnership in spring 2013 to develop three interactive online courses for credit. The following summer, SJSU and Udacity expanded the partnership to include five courses. All five courses remain open and free to anyone through Udacity’s website. Those who finish a course through Udacity will receive a certificate of completion from Udacity.


Udacity on Ipad

SJSU Plus: Fall 2013 Update

[This item was updated Sept. 11, 2013, to reflect publication of the National Science Foundation report and historical comparison noted below.]

Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

The following can be attributed to SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn.

With summer drawing to a close, we would like to provide everyone with an update on the SJSU/Udacity partnership. SJSU Plus began in January with just under 300 students in three courses. In June, we added two more courses, with 2,091 students enrolling in all five classes.

What do these courses have in common? All are entry-level classes most students need to graduate. This matches the project’s goal, which is to provide high-quality, low-cost college courses for credit to everyone.

SJSU and Udacity learned quite a bit over the past six months. The spring pilot study funded by the National Science Foundation has been published.

San Jose State has also posted the following document: SJSU Plus Grade Distribution and Historical Comparison.

We would like to share some lessons learned.

Here’s what worked:

  • Learning by doing works. Online video allows us to stop every few minutes and offer students the opportunity to try what they’ve learned with an online exercise. Instructors have found this so effective that some are incorporating SJSU Plus materials into their campus-based courses.
  • Student interaction remains strong. Does online learning stifle conversation? We found the opposite. Students are connecting with each other, instructors and instructional assistants through every means available: text, email, phone calls, chats and meetings.

Here’s where we’ve improved:

  • Students need help preparing for class. With SJSU Plus reaching well beyond the SJSU campus, we are enrolling a growing number of students who are unfamiliar with the demands of college courses. This summer, 89 percent of our SJSU Plus students were not California State University students. So SJSU Plus now offers orientation in various forms in all five courses.
  • Students need help keeping up. Everyone needs a little encouragement to stay on track. So we’ve added tools that help students gauge their progress and we’re checking in with individual students more often.
  • We need to communicate better with students. Although SJSU and Udacity try to be as clear as possible with our online instruction, we know we can do better. Student feedback has been immensely helpful in refining SJSU Plus materials. We’re also sending less email and more messages while students are “in class” online.

Here’s what happened:

We’re still analyzing summer results. As you know, it can take a while to double check the numbers and understand cause and effect. But SJSU and Udacity are encouraged by improvements in student performance across the board. The following chart shows the percentage of students who earned a C or better.

Spring Pilot 2013 Summer Pilot 2013 SJSU On-Campus
(based on past 6 semesters)
Elementary Statistics 50.5% 83.0% 76.3%
College Algebra 25.4% 72.6% 64.7%
Entry Level Math 23.8% 29.8% 45.5%
General Psychology not offered 67.3% 83.0%
Intro to Programming not offered 70.4% 67.6%

(*Represents students who scored a C or better)

The overall retention rate dropped to 60 percent this summer, compared with 83 percent this spring, reflecting SJSU’s decision to be more flexible when students signaled to instructors that they needed to drop the course.

Here are a few things we’d like to clarify:

  • Over the summer, there were many comparisons made between our SJSU Plus and face-to-face courses. What many people failed to realize is this was not an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • On campus, we have students who are well acquainted with the rigor of college-level work. With SJSU Plus, most students are just beginning or resuming their college careers.
  • Also, the SJSU students enrolled in the SJSU Plus math courses this past spring failed the campus-based versions once before. Normally, these students would have been required to return to community college.
  • And that goes right back to our mission of increasing access. A 30 percent pass rate does sound low, until you stop and think that most of these students would not otherwise have had access to the course at all.

Here’s where we see things going in the future.

  • After taking a breather this fall to set the stage for student success in the future, we will resume offering SJSU Plus courses in January 2014. One major question we need to address is how to better sync our courses with our students’ busy schedules.
  • Many students have asked for greater flexibility in pacing, enabling them to speed up or slow down outside the confines of a conventional semester schedule. Customized scheduling is unprecedented at SJSU, but we would like to explore this option.
$208,863,349 raised during the Acceleration Campaign

Exceeding Our Goal, Powering Our Future

$208,863,349 raised during the Acceleration Campaign

Strong support helped “Acceleration: The Campaign for San Jose State” exceed its goal and conclude one year earlier than anticipated.

Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – President Mohammad Qayoumi announced today that San Jose State University has raised more than $208 million in private giving during its first-ever, multi-year comprehensive fundraising campaign. Strong support helped “Acceleration: The Campaign for San Jose State” exceed its goal and conclude one year earlier than anticipated. President Qayoumi made the announcement during his Fall Welcome Address, an annual tradition marking the advent of the academic year. (View prepared remarks.)

“Let me take this opportunity to thank all involved for their hard work and strong commitment,” President Qayoumi said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our donors for believing and investing in San Jose State. Together, we have laid a solid foundation for the next campaign.”

San Jose State President Mohammad Qayoumi delivered the Fall Welcome Address on Aug. 19 in Morris Dailey Auditorium.

President Mohammad Qayoumi delivered the Fall Welcome Address on Aug. 19 in Morris Dailey Auditorium.

Acceleration began in 2006 with the goal of raising $200 million in eight years from individuals, corporations and foundations. SJSU received more than 30,000 individual gifts, with half of the donors hailing from the Bay Area. The funds raised will support all seven colleges, the University Library, Student Affairs and Intercollegiate Athletics. Planning for the next campaign is underway.

SJSU’s Strategic Plan

Using San Jose State’s strategic plan as a framework for his Fall Welcome Address to faculty and staff members and students, Qayoumi focused on the university’s five long-term goals, including “Unbounded Learning,” which encompasses all efforts to enhance student success through continuous learning innovations.

The president highlighted enhancements across the disciplines, including engineering, business, education, math and computer science. Qayoumi also affirmed his commitment to San Jose State’s most controversial efforts, which have involved instructors experimenting with massive open online course platforms offered by edX and Udacity.

“I hope our collective curiosity and passion for student success motivates us to continually explore new approaches to teaching and learning,” President Qayoumi said. “I am encouraged that our faculty members are considered innovators and pioneers. Change is hard. Yet it is essential that we improve student access, enhance academic performance, shorten time to degree and increase graduation rates.”

Planning for the Future

President Qayoumi continued by describing progress with nearly a dozen ongoing or planned campus construction projects, reflecting SJSU’s strategic goal of developing “21st Century Spaces.” The president also declared the university budget structurally balanced for the first time in recent memory, applauding officials for passing the state budget on time and restoring support for the California State University system.

“We have accomplished much in the past year, and there is much more to be done,” President Qayoumi said. “A spirit of collaboration and shared mission will be more important than ever.  All of our efforts will involve discussion.  A few may even provoke disagreement. Let us commit ourselves to respectful, civil, collegial and healthy dialogue.  I am confident that together we can continue to transform San Jose State in its continuing journey for excellence.“

San Jose State University — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.



New Online Classes

Current students can enroll in online courses offered by other CSU campuses beginning fall 2013.

This fall will mark the launch of a systemwide program that will provide full-time students enrolled at any campus with access to fully online courses offered at other CSU campuses. Interested current students can view the online offerings at www.calstate.edu/concurrent. Credit earned at the CSU campus offering the online course is automatically reported to the home campus and included on student transcripts. The cost is covered by your regular tuition payment. For fall 2013, calstate.edu/concurrent shows 36 fully online courses available. These offerings cover a wide range of topics including general biology, physical geography, business finance, critical reasoning and visual communication. Students are urged to consult with an academic adviser before signing up for concurrent courses.

SJSU Plus Announcement

Update: Online Initiatives

SJSU Plus Announcement

In January 2013, San Jose State University and Silicon Valley-based online education startup Udacity Inc. launched SJSU Plus, offering college classes for credit to SJSU and non-SJSU students.

The following is a statement from Provost Ellen Junn and President Mohammad Qayoumi:

We would like to offer a few clarifications to recent reports regarding San Jose State University’s online course offerings and SJSU’s partnership with Udacity.

First, news coverage and much commentary have been based on very preliminary and unanalyzed data from a spring 2013 pilot of three SJSU Plus courses with Udacity. We are currently awaiting a more comprehensive National Science Foundation data analysis and report that will be available in August (spring semester courses ended and final grades were submitted only seven weeks ago). We look forward to discussing these results next month.

Second, SJSU remains firmly committed to its partnership with Udacity. We decided jointly to spend time this fall assessing all available data and making appropriate changes. Udacity is an outstanding, responsive partner with an exemplary commitment to empowering faculty to control course content, improving human contact with students, providing high quality student learning environments, and maintaining integrity. Together, we have learned a great deal from the spring 2013 pilot.

Third, it is important to note that at the outset, SJSU made a commitment to working with “at risk” students – many from disadvantaged economic backgrounds; high school students; and students of our own who had struggled with the curriculum (including many who had failed remedial math courses in the past). Without question, these and other factors significantly affect student performance outcomes.

We intend this fall to introduce additional opportunities for discussion, dialogue, and consultation with members of our campus community and others, and ensure alignment with campus policies and processes. We will also analyze results from our summer SJSU Plus courses, which are underway now.

In sum, we welcome vigorous public discussion of our pilot efforts and assessments of their effectiveness. We also encourage patience while we await findings of the NSF-funded analysis, which will offer a far more complete picture from this pilot and inform future efforts.

The Future of the College Degree

The Future of the College Degree

The Future of the College Degree

At the invitation of the National Journal, five leading experts including President Mohammad Qayoumi met in Washington, D.C., July 10 to discuss “The New Knowledge Economy.”

What is the future of the college degree, and higher education in general, in the United States?

At the invitation of the National Journal, five leading experts including President Mohammad Qayoumi met in Washington, D.C., July 10 to discuss “The New Knowledge Economy.”

Qayoumi described his vision for higher education, which includes standardizing 25 to 30 lower-level introductory courses and then customizing upper-level coursework with a range of hybrid and hands-on learning experiences.

The president’s proposal “has a lot of promise,” said fellow panelist Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation. “I think this is a near-term thing … that will be the standard for the first couple years of the undergraduate experience.”

But some things would remain the same. “Nothing can really replace the campus experience,” Qayoumi said, adding that  “I firmly believe faculty will still be a central part of the learning process.”

The president went on to discuss how offering standardized lower-level classes online will mean “some students who are very motivated could possibly do a year or more of their college work while they’re still in high school.”

Online learning also offers international experiences, Qayoumi said, explaining how a project could include “a group of students … one from Shanghai, one from Boston, one from San Francisco, and the fourth from Egypt. This kind of an environment is going to prepare students for tomorrow.”

Read the president’s white paper, “Are We Innovation-Ready: A Bold New Model for Higher Education.” 

View the National Journal panel discussion.

The New Yorker: Laptop U — Has the Future of College Moved Online?

Posted by The New Yorker May 20, 2013.

By Nathan Heller

Gregory Nagy, a professor of classical Greek literature at Harvard, is a gentle academic of the sort who, asked about the future, will begin speaking of Homer and the battles of the distant past. At seventy, he has owlish eyes, a flared Hungarian nose, and a tendency to gesture broadly with the flat palms of his hands. He wears the crisp white shirts and dark blazers that have replaced tweed as the raiment of the academic caste. His hair, also white, often looks manhandled by the Boston wind. Where some scholars are gnomic in style, Nagy piles his sentences high with thin-sliced exposition. (“There are about ten passages—and by passages I simply mean a selected text, and these passages are meant for close reading, and sometimes I’ll be referring to these passages as texts, or focus passages, but you’ll know I mean the same thing—and each one of these requires close reading!”) When he speaks outside the lecture hall, he smothers friends and students with a stew of blandishment and praise. “Thank you, Wonderful Kevin!” he might say. Or: “The Great Claudia put it so well.” Seen in the wild, he could be taken for an antique-shop proprietor: a man both brimming with solicitous enthusiasm and fretting that the customers are getting, maybe, just a bit too close to his prized Louis XVI chair.

Nagy has published no best-sellers. He is not a regular face on TV. Since 1978, though, he has taught a class called “Concepts of the Hero in Classical Greek Civilization,” and the course, a survey of poetry, tragedy, and Platonic dialogues, has made him a campus fixture. Because Nagy’s zest for Homeric texts is boundless, because his lectures reflect decades of refinement, and because the course is thought to offer a soft grading curve (its nickname on campus is Heroes for Zeroes), it has traditionally filled Room 105, in Emerson Hall, one of Harvard’s largest classroom spaces. Its enrollment has regularly climbed into the hundreds.

This spring, however, enrollment in Nagy’s course exceeds thirty-one thousand. “Concepts of the Hero,” redubbed “CB22x: The Ancient Greek Hero,” is one of Harvard’s first massive open online courses, or MOOCs—a new type of college class based on Internet lecture videos. A MOOC is “massive” because it’s designed to enroll tens of thousands of students. It’s “open” because, in theory, anybody with an Internet connection can sign up. “Online” refers not just to the delivery mode but to the style of communication: much, if not all, of it is on the Web. And “course,” of course, means that assessment is involved—assignments, tests, an ultimate credential. When you take MOOCs, you’re expected to keep pace. Your work gets regular evaluation. In the end, you’ll pass or fail or, like the vast majority of enrollees, just stop showing up.

Many people think that MOOCs are the future of higher education in America. In the past two years, Harvard, M.I.T., Caltech, and the University of Texas have together pledged tens of millions of dollars to MOOC development. Many other élite schools, from U.C. Berkeley to Princeton, have similarly climbed aboard. Their stated goal is democratic reach. “I expect that there will be lots of free, or nearly free, offerings available,” John L. Hennessy, the president of Stanford, explained in a recent editorial. “While the gold standard of small in-person classes led by great instructors will remain, online courses will be shown to be an effective learning environment, especially in comparison with large lecture-style courses.”

Some lawmakers, meanwhile, see MOOCs as a solution to overcrowding; in California, a senate bill, introduced this winter, would require the state’s public colleges to give credit for approved online courses. (Eighty-five per cent of the state’s community colleges currently have course waiting lists.) Following a trial run at San Jose State University which yielded higher-than-usual pass rates, eleven schools in the California State University system moved to incorporate MOOCs into their curricula. In addition to having their own professors teach, say, electrical engineering, these colleges may use videos by teachers at schools such as M.I.T.

Read the full text.

New York Times: Professors at San Jose State Criticize Online Courses

Published by the New York Times May 2, 2013.

By Tamar Lewin

San Jose State University has publicly committed to using online courses to bring in more students — and bring down costs — but its philosophy department is balking. Faculty members issued a blistering statement this week about why they will not use materials from an online course called Justice, taught by Michael Sandel of Harvard, an academic superstar.

Mohammad H. Qayoumi, the president of San Jose State, has pushed his university to experiment with new online technologies through pilot projects with both edX, the nonprofit Harvard-M.I.T. online collaboration that offers Dr. Sandel’s course, and Udacity, a company producing the massive open online courses, known as MOOCs.

But this week, the philosophy department sent Dr. Sandel an open letter asserting that such courses, designed by elite universities and widely licensed by others, would compromise the quality of education, stifle diverse viewpoints and lead to the dismantling of public universities.

“The thought of the exact same social justice course being taught in various philosophy depts. across the country is downright scary,” the letter said.

The letter came as a surprise to the provost, Ellen Junn, because, she said, no one had demanded that the philosophy department use the Sandel course. “All we ever did was let the deans know that these courses were available, and if they were interested in integrating any of the edX materials into their courses, they should let us know,” Dr. Junn said. “We’re never telling faculty what to use. They control the content of their courses.”

Several philosophy professors, however, said that there was administrative pressure to offer the Justice course. Indeed, the department chairman, Peter J. Hadreas, said that administrators had now arranged to offer it through the English department, reinforcing his concerns that it would be taught by professors who are not trained in philosophy and would be especially reliant on the edX materials.

Dr. Junn said she had e-mailed the philosophy department on Wednesday, the day she learned of the letter, to ask whether anyone wanted to discuss it, but was told there was no need, since the letter was mainly meant to raise the level of discussion.

The letter echoed concerns of many university faculties across the nation as MOOCs have spread rapidly. It emphasized the importance of individual interaction with students, and the fear that the courses would widen the gap between the education that elite universities can offer, and what is available to students at most other institutions.

“The move to MOOCs comes at great peril to our university,” the letter said, “We regard such courses as a serious compromise of quality of education and, ironically for a social justice course, a case of social injustice.”

While expressing respect for Dr. Sandel’s scholarship and teaching, it also chided him, saying, “Professors who care about public education should not produce products that will replace professors, dismantle departments and provide a diminished education for student in public universities.”

“My goal is simply to make an educational resource freely available — a resource that faculty colleagues should be free to use in whole or in part, or not at all, as they see fit,” Dr. Sandel said in a statement responding to the letter. “The worry that the widespread use of online courses will damage departments in public universities facing budgetary pressures is a legitimate concern that deserves serious debate, at edX and throughout higher education. The last thing I want is for my online lectures to be used to undermine faculty colleagues at other institutions.”

San Jose State philosophy professors said there were no dissenters from the letter. “We don’t have any illusions that we’ll change the world,” said Prof. Tom Leddy. “But our position needs to be heard. It’s been amazing to us how quickly we’ve moved to MOOCs, without faculty consultation. And now the state government’s pushing it. It’s great to have Professor Sandel’s lectures available free online, to use if we want. But if we buy them from edX as the basis for our classes, we would suddenly be second-class citizens. I would basically be a teaching assistant, and my students, unlike those at Harvard, could not question their professor.”

Anant Agarwal, the M.I.T. professor who heads edX, had a different view. “Really, we can think of MOOCs as the next-generation textbook, and just as it doesn’t take away from a professor to use a chapter of someone else’s textbook,” he said, “I don’t think it takes away from them to use as much or as little of our materials as they want. I really believe it frees them to interact more with their students.”

Faculty backlash against online courses has spread in recent weeks, as the Amherst College faculty voted against joining edX, and the Duke faculty voted down participation in Semester Online, offered by a consortium of universities.

Most faculty objections arise out of concerns about how online courses impinge on the professor-student relationship — and how they may lead to the privatization of public universities, and the loss of faculty jobs. “I started out very enthusiastic about the democratization of higher education through the global MOOCs, but I’ve gotten more cautious as my colleagues talk about what it might mean for jobs, at public universities,” said one professor, who taught a popular MOOC, but asked not to be named because he said he had not decided whether he would continue to teach them.

Many college presidents, too, are MOOC skeptics. In a Gallup poll released Thursday, most of the 889 presidents surveyed said they did not expect online education to solve colleges’ financial challenges or improve all students’ learning.


Chronicle of Higher Education: As MOOC Debate Simmers at San Jose State, American U. Calls a Halt

Published by the Chronicle of Higher Education May 9, 2013.

By Steve Kolowich

In the latest salvo in a debate over MOOCs that has drawn national attention, the San Jose State University chapter of the California Faculty Association has thrown its weight behind recent criticisms of the university’s partnerships with outside providers of massive open online courses—specifically, edX and Udacity.

Meantime, on the opposite side of the country, American University has announced a “moratorium on MOOCs.”

The California faculty union, which represents more than 2,000 professors on the San Jose State campus, has written a memorandum sharply criticizing the university’s president, Mohammad H. Qayoumi, for what the union sees as a preference for “private rather than public solutions” when it comes to online tools and content.

San Jose State has pushed various academic departments to use content from edX and Udacity—private entities that build MOOCs with materials from professors around the country—in their own courses.

But the university’s philosophy department last week said it would refuse to use content from an edX course led by a Harvard University professor. In an open letter, the professors declared a deep distrust of the San Jose State administration’s intentions in its partnerships with MOOC providers. “Let’s not kid ourselves,” they wrote. “Administrators at the CSU are beginning a process of replacing faculty with cheap online education.”

The faculty union echoed that distrust in the new memo, which was provided to The Chronicle in advance of its publication on the association’s Web site.

In the memo the union representatives write that Mr. Qayoumi, in his efforts to publicize the university’s collaborations with the MOOC providers, has been reluctant to defend professors against “a stereotype of classroom teaching based on some hackneyed Hollywood script of a teacher writing on a blackboard while his students sleep in boredom.”

Instead, the president has been all too eager to “celebrate private enterprise at the expense of the university and its collegial form of government,” the memo asserts.

Pat L. Harris, media-relations director at San Jose State, reiterated that professors have not been forced to use any materials from edX or Udacity. “In both cases, we have our faculty members behind the online efforts that the world is seeing,” said Ms. Harris. “We haven’t cut them out of it; in fact they’re at the core of what we’re doing.”

Regarding the professors’ deeper concerns—that the partnerships with outside companies will, in the long run, lead to the elimination of some faculty jobs and encroachment on the academic freedom of those who remain—Ms. Harris said she had not been part of any such discussions, though she is “leery to predict the far future.”

A ‘Moratorium on MOOCs’

Meanwhile, at American University, the provost sent a memo on Wednesday to the entire faculty and staff reiterating a “moratorium on MOOCs” while the university, in Washington, D.C., continues to draft a policy on how the massive courses would operate there.

The university is taking its time in deciding whether it wants to pursue institutional partnerships with edX or Coursera, another MOOC provider; or whether it wants to allow professors to teach MOOCs on their own, through Udacity or some other platform.

Contrary to institutions that have eagerly embraced MOOCs, American is purposely avoiding experimentation before it decides exactly how it wants to relate to the new breed of online courses. “I need a policy before we jump into something,” said Scott A. Bass, the provost, in an interview.

In his memo, Mr. Bass assures the faculty that American will not pursue MOOCs before addressing issues such as faculty oversight and release time. In the interview, Mr. Bass also mentioned unresolved issues like how MOOC teaching gigs might fit into decisions about promotion and tenure.

“There are serious questions to be asked, and answered, before we rush ahead,” the provost said.

In the memo, the provost lays out a series of proscriptions—formulated in consultation with the Faculty Senate—that limit how professors at American may teach online on a freelance basis.

For example, professors may not teach full courses online; they may not engage in any online teaching that costs students money or results in a certificate or course credit; they may not engage in any grading or assessment activities; and they must tell their deans about any freelance online teaching job, even if it falls within the rules.

“The university wanted reassurance,” said Barlow Burke, a professor of law and chair of the Faculty Senate, that American University “would be the primary employer of the faculty.”

Chronicle of Higher Education: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad MOOC?

Posted by the Chronicle of Higher Education May 6, 2013.

By Andrew Valls

Are MOOCs and other online materials a threat to quality public higher education, and to our role as professors? The members of the philosophy department at San Jose State University think so. They recently issued an open letter to Michael Sandel, of Harvard University, objecting to his role in encouraging the use of MOOCs at public universities. The controversy stems from San Jose State’s contract with edX, a company that provides MOOCs, including one based on Sandel’s course on justice at Harvard. San Jose State has agreed to use materials provided by edX, but the philosophy department has refused to use Sandel’s online lectures in its courses.

I am a political theorist at a large public university, and this term, for the first time, I am teaching my course, “Introduction to Political Theory,” as a hybrid. I am using Sandel’s course on justice—not the MOOC, but essentially the same materials that are publicly available at justiceharvard.org—to provide much of the online portion of the course.  Though this is still an experiment, many of the arguments presented by the San Jose State philosophy professors do not ring true in light of my experience.

We should begin by distinguishing two issues. The philosophy professors state that they have felt pressured by their administration to use the materials from Sandel’s course. The administration denies exerting any such pressure. Whatever the truth of the matter, that is an issue of academic freedom, and not about the pedagogical merits of using MOOCs and other online materials.  I certainly agree that professors should be responsible for the content and pedagogy in their own courses.

The real issue, then, is whether the availability and use of online materials, whether through MOOCs or through other channels, is a threat to quality education, especially at public universities. Many of the arguments presented in the letter presuppose an either/or, all-or-nothing approach when it comes to face-to-face versus online teaching.  But the whole point of a hybrid, or blended, course is that it combines both. And it is difficult to see why it makes a great deal of difference whether the online content is delivered via a MOOC or not.

Nothing will ever replace the face-to-face discussions that occur in the classroom. But in many traditional, on-campus courses, little discussion occurs. In a lecture course with hundreds, or even just scores, of students, much of the time in the classroom is inevitably spent with the professor lecturing and the students (hopefully) taking notes—or at least listening attentively. In courses with a significant lecture component, the advantages of using online lectures are undeniable. I know from my own experience that, if my attention wanes for a few moments, it is very convenient to simply go back and play a portion again.  One can do the same if one doesn’t quite understand something the first time. And one need not miss material to take a bathroom break.

The availability of high-quality online lectures is an opportunity to rethink how we spend our time in the classroom. If an online lecture presents the material, or walks students through an argument, we are freed to spend more time discussing the aspects of the material that are most difficult—or most interesting. We can do other kinds of activities that we might not have time for if we felt obliged to present the material in the traditional way. Yes, hybrid courses usually involve less face-to-face time, but that time can be better and more effectively spent.

The philosophy professors also seem to assume that only professors at elite universities can provide online lectures and other materials, and that public-university professors will inevitably be reduced to being “consumers” of this material. But why should that be the case? Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can produce and make publicly available material that others might find helpful. A great deal already exists on YouTube and elsewhere. And as MOOCs become more commonplace, some enterprising computer programmer can be counted on to offer software or a Web site that makes it easier for individual professors, or institutions with modest means, to produce MOOCs.

I believe that at some point each of us, the experts in our respective fields, should be providing online lectures, if not entire MOOCs, that the rest of us can use. We should look upon online lectures and similar materials as a way to draw on others’ expertise. As it is, I read some of the secondary literature on a theorist whose work I teach. Why not let the students hear a lecture on that thinker by a colleague at another university whose work I find so helpful in preparing my own lectures? Why not give students direct access to the deep knowledge of the genuine specialists on each of the works or thinkers that we cover?  Yes, the students could read the secondary literature too, but surely there are advantages to lectures. Otherwise, why do we provide them in the classroom?

One should hope that eventually there would be a wide variety of lectures available online from which professors and students could choose. These might be available through a MOOC, or YouTube, or both. The “downright scary” prospect envisioned by the San Jose State professors of the exact same course being taught in various departments across the country need not come to pass. That depends on whether others provide alternative material, and whether professors uniformly choose the same materials. The scary prospect can be avoided if each of us picks and chooses among a wide array of alternatives, crafting our own distinctive combination of materials.

Using a MOOC for a hybrid course is like adopting a textbook. You can use all of it, or just parts. You can use its exercises and tests, or not. You can still choose what to emphasize in the classroom, and still make your own assignments.

In the end, the crucial thing is that the instructor remains in the driver’s seat—and that takes us back to academic freedom. As long as individual professors are choosing what material to assign or recommend, running their in-class discussions and adding material that they think is not adequately covered in the online lectures, choosing the assignments and tests, and grading those tests, there is no threat to the professoriate, or to the quality of education at universities, public or otherwise.

Andrew Valls is an associate professor of political science at Oregon State University.



Chronicle of Higher Education: Why Professors at San Jose State Won’t Use a Harvard Professor’s MOOC

Posted by the Chronicle of Higher Education May 2, 2013.

By Steve Kolowich

Professors in the philosophy department at San Jose State University are refusing to teach a philosophy course developed by edX, saying they do not want to enable what they see as a push to “replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities.”

The San Jose State professors also called out Michael Sandel, the Harvard government professor who developed the course for edX, suggesting that professors who develop MOOCs are complicit in how public universities might use them.

In an open letter this week addressed to Mr. Sandel, the philosophy professors decried a dean’s request that the department integrate a MOOC version of “Justice,” the Harvard professor’s famous survey course, into the curriculum at San Jose State.

“In spite of our admiration for your ability to lecture in such an engaging way to such a large audience,” the letter’s authors write, “we believe that having a scholar teach and engage with his or her own students is far superior to having those students watch a video of another scholar engaging his or her students.”

The letter is part of a brewing debate about how MOOCs might deepen the divide between wealthy universities, which produce MOOCs, and less wealthy ones, which buy licenses to use those MOOCs from providers like edX.

The authors say they fear “that two classes of universities will be created: one, well-funded colleges and universities in which privileged students get their own real professor; the other, financially stressed private and public universities in which students watch a bunch of videotaped lectures and interact, if indeed any interaction is available on their home campuses, with a professor that this model of education has turned into a glorified teaching assistant.”

San Jose State’s Experiment

Under Mohammad H. Qayoumi, the university’s president, San Jose State has cast itself as a proving ground for the licensing model. In a pilot program, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one section of an introductory course in electrical engineering last fall drew heavily on recorded lectures and other materials from “Circuits & Electronics,” a MOOC from edX.

Students in that section passed at a much higher rate than those in the traditional sections. In April, Mr. Qayoumi doubled down on the experiment, announcing that San Jose State would road-test more edX courses on its campus, including courses in the humanities. The California State University system said it would push for similar experimentation with edX materials on 11 other campuses.

Like other faculty groups that have resisted outside providers of online courses in recent weeks, the San Jose State philosophy professors said they are not opposed to online and “blended” courses. But the professors fear that maintaining high quality might not be a top priority as university and system administrators navigate the current budget crisis.

In a statement to The Chronicle, San Jose State said it intends to leave faculty members in control of their courses, even where it is encouraging experimentation with edX materials like Mr. Sandel’s course.

“In the interest of clarity, our collaboration with edX does indeed locate the responsibility for the course solely with our faculty members, who will determine how much, or how little, of the edX course materials they will incorporate into their blended courses,” wrote Ellen Junn, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“The administration would never impose or mandate these teaching methods on faculty members,” Ms. Junn continued.

But the authors of the philosophy-department letter are nonetheless worried about what could happen in the future. “Let’s not kid ourselves; administrators at the CSU are beginning a process of replacing faculty with cheap online education.”

Peter J. Hadreas, chair of the philosophy department, said he believes that appealing to Mr. Sandel directly is the best way to spark a public conversation about the possible unintended consequences of superstar professors’ working with edX and other MOOC providers.

“I think he will answer it in good faith,” said Mr. Hadreas. “I don’t know if it will change his mind, but I would be interested to hear his response, and it might bring about some reconsideration.”

In a statement to The Chronicle, Mr. Sandel said he knows little about the arrangement between edX and San Jose State, but he hopes the university does not force professors there to use any more material from his MOOC than they wish to use.

“The worry that the widespread use of online courses will damage departments in public universities facing budgetary pressures is a legitimate concern that deserves serious debate, at edX and throughout higher education,” wrote Mr. Sandel. “The last thing I want is for my online lectures to be used to undermine faculty colleagues at other institutions.” He declined to comment further.

New York Times: Colleges Adapt Online Courses to Ease Burden

Posted by the New York Times April 29, 2013.

By Tamar Lewin

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dazzled by the potential of free online college classes, educators are now turning to the gritty task of harnessing online materials to meet the toughest challenges in American higher education: giving more students access to college, and helping them graduate on time.

Nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States arrive on campus needing remedial work before they can begin regular credit-bearing classes. That early detour can be costly, leading many to drop out, often in heavy debt and with diminished prospects of finding a job.

Meanwhile, shrinking state budgets have taken a heavy toll at public institutions, reducing the number of seats available in classes students must take to graduate. In California alone, higher education cuts have left hundreds of thousands of college students without access to classes they need.

To address both problems and keep students on track to graduation, universities are beginning to experiment with adding the new “massive open online courses,” created to deliver elite college instruction to anyone with an Internet connection, to their offerings.

While the courses, known as MOOCs, have enrolled millions of students around the world, most who enroll never start a single assignment, and very few complete the courses. So to reach students who are not ready for college-level work, or struggling with introductory courses, universities are beginning to add extra supports to the online materials, in hopes of improving success rates.

Here at San Jose State, for example, two pilot programs weave material from the online classes into the instructional mix and allow students to earn credit for them.

“We’re in Silicon Valley, we breathe that entrepreneurial air, so it makes sense that we are the first university to try this,” said Mohammad Qayoumi, the university’s president. “In academia, people are scared to fail, but we know that innovation always comes with the possibility of failure. And if it doesn’t work the first time, we’ll figure out what went wrong and do better.”

In one pilot program, the university is working with Udacity, a company co-founded by a Stanford professor, to see whether round-the-clock online mentors, hired and trained by the company, can help more students make their way through three fully online basic math courses.

The tiny for-credit pilot courses, open to both San Jose State students and local high school and community college students, began in January, so it is too early to draw any conclusions. But early signs are promising, so this summer, Udacity and San Jose State are expanding those classes to 1,000 students, and adding new courses in psychology and computer programming, with tuition of only $150 a course.

San Jose State has already achieved remarkable results with online materials from edX, a nonprofit online provider, in its circuits course, a longstanding hurdle for would-be engineers. Usually, two of every five students earn a grade below C and must retake the course or change career plans. So last spring, Ellen Junn, the provost, visited Anant Agarwal, an M.I.T. professor who taught a free online version of the circuits class, to ask whether San Jose State could become a living lab for his course, the first offering from edX, an online collaboration of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ms. Junn hoped that blending M.I.T.’s online materials with live classroom sessions might help more students succeed. Dr. Agarwal, the president of edX, agreed enthusiastically, and without any formal agreement or exchange of money, he arranged for San Jose State to offer the blended class last fall.

The results were striking: 91 percent of those in the blended section passed, compared with 59 percent in the traditional class.

“We’re engineers, and we check our results, but if this semester is similar, we will not have the traditional version next year,” said Khosrow Ghadiri, who teaches the blended class. “It would be educational malpractice.”

It is hard to say, though, how much the improved results come from the edX online materials, and how much from the shift to classroom sessions focusing on small group projects, rather than lectures.

Finding better ways to move students through the start of college is crucial, said Josh Jarrett, a higher education officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which in the past year has given grants to develop massive open online courses for basic and remedial courses.

“For us, 2012 was all about trying to tilt some of the MOOC attention toward the more novice learner, the low-income and first-generation students,” he said. “And 2013 is about blending MOOCs into college courses where there is additional support, and students can get credit. While some low-income young adults can benefit from what I call the free-range MOOCs, the research suggests that most are going to need more scaffolding, more support.”

Until now, there has been little data on how well the massive online courses work, and for which kinds of students. Blended courses provide valuable research data because outcomes can easily be compared with those from a traditional class. “The results in the San Jose circuits course are probably the most interesting data point in the whole MOOC movement,” Mr. Jarrett said.

Said Dr. Junn, “We want to bring all the hyperbole around MOOCs down to reality, and really see at a granular level that’s never before been available, how well they work for underserved students.”

Online courses are undeniably chipping at the traditional boundaries of higher education. Until now, most of the millions of students who register for them could not earn credit for their work. But that is changing, and not just at San Jose State. The three leading providers, Udacity, EdX and Coursera, are all offering proctored exams, and in some cases, certification for transfer credit through the American Council on Education.

Last month, in a controversial proposal, the president pro tem of the California Senate announced the introduction of legislation allowing students in the state’s public colleges and universities who cannot get a seat in oversubscribed lower-level classes to earn credit for faculty-approved online versions, including those from private vendors like edX and Udacity.

And on Wednesday, San Jose State announced that next fall, it will pay a licensing fee to offer three to five more blended edX courses, probably including Harvard’s “Ancient Greek Heroes” and Berkeley’s”Artificial Intelligence.” And over the summer, it will train 11 other California State campuses to use the blended M.I.T. circuits course.

Dr. Qayoumi favors the blended model for upper-level courses, but fully online courses like Udacity’s for lower-level classes, which could be expanded to serve many more students at low cost. Traditional teaching will be disappearing in five to seven years, he predicts, as more professors come to realize that lectures are not the best route to student engagement, and cash-strapped universities continue to seek cheaper instruction.

“There may still be face-to-face classes, but they would not be in lecture halls,” he said. “And they will have not only course material developed by the instructor, but MOOC materials and labs, and content from public broadcasting or corporate sources. But just as faculty currently decide what textbook to use, they will still have the autonomy to choose what materials to include.”

While San Jose State professors decided what material should be covered in the three Udacity math courses, it was Udacity employees who determined the course look and flow — and, in most cases, appeared on camera.

“We gave them lecture notes and a textbook, and they ‘Udacified’ things, and wrote the script, which we edited,” said Susan McClory, San Jose State’s developmental math coordinator. “We made sure they used our way of finding a common denominator.”

The online mentors work in shifts at Udacity’s offices in nearby Mountain View, Calif., waiting at their laptops for the “bing” that signals a question, and answering immediately.

“We get to hear the ‘aha’ moments, and these all-caps messages ‘THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU,’ ” said Rachel Meltzer, a former clinical research manager at Stanford and mentor who is starting medical school next fall.

The mentors answer about 30 questions a day, like how to type the infinity symbol or add unlike fractions — or, occasionally, whether Ms. Meltzer is interested in a date. The questions appear in a chat box on-screen, but tutoring can move to a whiteboard, or even a live conversation. When many students share confusion, mentors provide feedback to the instructors.

The San Jose State professors were surprised at the speed with which the project came together.

“The first word was in November, and it started in January,” said Ronald Rogers, one of the statistics professors. “Academics usually form a committee for months before anything happens.”

But Udacity’s approach was appealing.

“What attracted us to Udacity was the pedagogy, that they break things into very small segments, then ask students to figure things out, before you’ve told them the answer,” said Dr. Rogers, who spends an hour a day reading comments on the discussion forum for students in the worldwide version of the class.

Results from the pilot for-credit version with the online mentors will not be clear until after the final exams, which will be proctored by webcam.

But one good sign is that, in the pilot statistics course, every student, including a group of high school students from an Oakland charter school, completed the first, unproctored exam.

“We’re approaching this as an empirical question,” Dr. Rogers said. “If the results are good, then we’ll scale it up, which would be very good, given how much unmet demand we have at California public colleges.”

Any wholesale online expansion raises the specter of professors being laid off, turned into glorified teaching assistants or relegated to second-tier status, with only academic stars giving the lectures. Indeed, the faculty unions at all three California higher education systems oppose the legislation requiring credit for MOOCs for students shut out of on-campus classes. The state, they say, should restore state financing for public universities, rather than turning to unaccredited private vendors.

But with so many students lacking access, others say, new alternatives are necessary.

“I’m involved in this not to destroy brick-and-mortar universities, but to increase access for more students,” Dr. Rogers said.

And if short videos and embedded quizzes with instant feedback can improve student outcomes, why should professors go on writing and delivering their own lectures?

“Our ego always runs ahead of us, making us think we can do it better than anyone else in the world,” Dr. Ghadiri said. “But why should we invent the wheel 10,000 times? This is M.I.T., No. 1 school in the nation — why would we not want to use their material?”

There are, he said, two ways of thinking about what the MOOC revolution portends: “One is me, me, me — me comes first. The other is, we are not in this business for ourselves, we are here to educate students.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 30, 2013

An earlier version of this article misstated the institution from which Rachel Meltzer, a mentor for the online provider Coursera, graduated. It was Washington University in St. Louis, not Stanford (where Ms. Meltzer worked a clinical research manager).

Chronicle of Higher Education: The Digital Campus 2013–Learning From Big Business

Posted by the Chronicle of Higher Education April 29, 2013.

The Idea Makers: Ten Tech Innovators 2013

What are the biggest ideas in education technology this year, and who’s driving them? For the second year in a row, The Chronicle has identified a group of key innovators who are rebooting the academy, and we’ve profiled 10 of them on the pages that follow. This is not an endorsement of their projects: In some cases, the subjects of the profiles disagree with one another on how best to change higher education. But all of the people you’ll meet here think technology could break established molds and help students learn more effectively, researchers make discoveries more easily, and colleges operate more efficiently. Earlier this year we invited readers and higher-education leaders to submit their nominations for this project, and we received more than 125 entries. Ultimately, the selections were made by a group of Chronicle editors and reporters, with a goal of considering innovators in various sectors.

By Jeffrey R. Young

Mohammad H. Qayoumi thinks public universities should take a lesson from Wal-Mart—a view that might sound strange coming from a university president.

But Mr. Qayoumi, who leads San Jose State University, is referring to the retail giant’s ability to continually expand both its brick-and-mortar stores and its online services. “It has the biggest stores all over the country, but it is also really active in e-commerce,” he says. “It’s not an either/or, it’s an issue of how we can really bring a blend of the two together.”

Mr. Qayoumi is trying a similar blending on his campus. He is experimenting with using massive open online courses, or MOOCs, both to bring down the cost of delivering classes on his campus and to let high-school students and others get a head start on college—on the cheap.

For his first goal of cutting costs, the university teamed up with edX, the nonprofit MOOC provider started by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to offer a “circuits and electronics” course in which students watched free lectures made by MIT professors as homework and attended class discussions with instructors at San Jose State.

The experiment violated a basic premise of college teaching—that every professor should create and deliver his or her own lectures.

“How different is the basic algebra course taught in Boston, or California, or wherever?” asks Mr. Qayoumi.

To help provide a cheaper online-only option, the university forged a partnership with Udacity, a for-profit MOOC provider. In a pilot project, the company worked with professors at the university to create three introductory mathematics classes. The courses are free online, but students who want credit from San Jose State can take them for just $150, far less than the $450 to $750 that students would typically pay for a credit-bearing course.

Both moves are part of Mr. Qayoumi’s plan to “reinvent” public universities. He has laid out that vision in a series of reports that call for public colleges to use technology to produce more graduates while spending less money. In one, he suggests that some high-school students might take a year’s worth of courses as MOOCs before even coming to a college campus.

Some professors question the president’s notion that colleges should look to industry for inspiration. “It almost treats students like they’re industrial products, like ‘How many widgets can we get through those programs?'” said David Parry, an assistant professor of emerging media at the University of Texas at Dallas, in an interview this year after San Jose State announced its project with Udacity.

Mr. Qayoumi, though, sees the move to online learning as a way to actually improve the quality of education. In large lecture classes, he says, people romanticize the classroom experience and overstate the effectiveness of the chalk-and-talk format. When professors give monologues to a room of 120 students, few actually interact with the sage on the stage.

So far, data are proving him right. In his experiment with the edX circuits class, 91 percent of the students who watched the lecture videos from MIT passed, while only 55 percent and 59 percent passed in the two traditional sections offered as control groups.

The president compares higher education today to the railroad industry in the 1940s and 50s: Companies that stubbornly clung to the view that they were in the railroad business failed, while those that diversified, considering their mission as transportation in whatever form, thrived.

“How can we really help our students be successful?” he asks. “How can we be this cradle of creativity and an intellectual center of new ideas and new knowledge?”

“We are a learning enterprise,” he says. And he’s willing to abandon the old rails of traditional instruction.

Mr. Qayoumi, 60, grew up in Afghanistan and trained as an engineer at the American University of Beirut. He did his doctoral thesis at the University of Cincinnati on how to rethink electrical systems to make them more efficient.

He worked in industry for several years—as an engineer in the Middle East—which he credits for giving him his business-minded approach to college leadership.

In the mid-80s he became associate vice president for administration at San Jose State, and held administrative positions at two other California institutions before becoming president of California State University-East Bay, in 2006. He took over the top job at San Jose State two years ago.

He has also played a role in the rebuilding of his homeland, serving as senior adviser to the minister of finance of Afghanistan, from 2002 to 2005, and as a board member of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, from 2003 to 2006.

His reports and his experiments with MOOCs have recently brought him into the national spotlight. He has presented his ideas to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Gov. Jerry Brown of California has taken an interest in his projects.

Mr. Qayoumi often talks as if he’s running a start-up technology company rather than a state university. “We would like to move as fast as we can,” he says of his plans. “We want to fail fast, learn from it, and move on.”

What would he say to someone who worries that too much fast failing could undo his esteemed university?

“I don’t see them as radical,” he says of his projects. “It’s not that we’re changing the entire university.”

But he does feel a sense of urgency for his reforms. “Isn’t it about time that something should change?” he asks. “From the day that chalk and a blackboard were invented, how much change has really been made? We need to move far faster than what we have been comfortable” with up to now, he says.


Charlie Rose: Online Education

Charlie Rose: Online Education

Charlie Rose: Online Education

Posted by Charlie Rose April 25, 2013.

In a discussion about massive open online courses offering an Ivy League education to students everywhere, Charlie Rose asks: “Is this at long last an idea whose time has come?” Guest commentators include Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX; Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania; Joel Klein, former New York City Schools chancellor and CEO of Amplify; and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. San Jose State recently announced it will expand its collaboration with edX to more California State University campuses and more courses. During this show, Agarwal and Friedman discuss how the SJSU/edX blended model is improving student performance, increasing access to higher education, and emerging as a business model that works.

National Journal: How Online Education Saves Everyone Money

Posted by National Journal April 25, 2013.

By Sophie Quinton

Three times a week, 15 weeks a semester, you can expect to see Sandra DeSousa teaching a room of 150 to 250 students the math they should have learned in high school. The adjunct professor at San Jose State University has another 100 students under her charge this spring, but she rarely sees them face-to-face.

In January, the California university entered into a partnership with Udacity, a Palo Alto-based company that specializes in providing free online courses, to develop entry-level classes in mathematics. Any student, not only those enrolled at San Jose State, can take one of the courses for academic credit. The university has its own separate online offerings, but a three-unit course can cost $1,050. The programs developed with Udacity were priced at $150.

What’s happening at 30,000-student San Jose State, the oldest public university in the West, reflects the pressures facing higher education across the country. Like other state-run schools, it is expected to provide access to as many students as possible. But in the wake of the Great Recession, taxpayers and tuition-payers are struggling to foot the bill. Deficit-ridden California has cut spending per student on higher education almost 30 percent since 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and tuition at the state’s public four-year colleges has risen 72 percent. Not surprisingly, students have found it ever-harder to obtain the diploma that’s become almost a requirement for jobs that assure a middle-class life.

Education reformers see a remedy in Internet-based tools, which they say can help more students earn college degrees at a lower cost to themselves, their families, and the government. California legislators, hoping to hurry the process, are considering legislation that would require public colleges and universities to give credit for faculty-approved online courses. Those could include some of Uda-city’s free offerings.

Online education isn’t new. But the latest technological wave could shake up traditional modes of instruction—on-screen and off—and change the way brick-and-mortar universities operate. “I really do feel like this is going to erupt in a way that is helpful to students,” said Michelle Rhee-Weise, a senior research fellow in education at the Innosight Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. San Jose State’s partnership with Udacity could be the first tremor.


San Jose State has already complemented its standard offerings with Internet-based courses that on-campus students can take for credit and with degrees that can be earned entirely online, ranging from a master’s in public health to a graduate certificate in online business analytics. More than 90 percent of public colleges already offered online courses a decade ago, according to the Babson Survey Research Group. But enrollment has soared. By 2011, 32 percent of students enrolled in a degree-granting institution were taking at least one course online.

Multiple factors are driving this shift. For starters, technology has enabled high-quality video and interactive software. Another major motivator is cost. During the past decade, the price of an undergraduate education (tuition, room, and board) leaped by 31 percent at private schools and by 42 percent at public institutions, according to federal-government figures. Seventy percent more students took out loans, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found, borrowing an average of 70 percent more money. Even at public institutions, historically able to offer an affordable education, tuition has risen uncomfortably high as state and local funding has shrunk by 21 percent per pupil over the past 10 years.

State governments see online programs as something of a safety valve, allowing them to serve more students without raising taxes, said Michael McPherson, president of the Chicago-based Spencer Foundation, which finances education research. The potential for savings prompted a group of governors in the late 1990s to create the Western Governors University, an all-online institution that now serves 38,000 students, mainly working adults looking to advance their careers.

Cash-strapped schools have used online degree programs to subsidize on-campus student services or to expand the capacity of oversubscribed classes. But until recently, online education lacked the academic prestige or a critical mass of innovators to prove that its tools are more than just a safety valve and that they can fundamentally improve the way colleges teach.

“The fact that Stanford and Harvard and MIT and others have gotten into the game has sort of changed the equation,” said Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation, which encourages access to higher education. Big-name schools have spent millions of dollars developing educational software and publishing lectures and course materials—known as Massive Open Online Courses—available to anyone on the Internet. Colleges as varied as Bryn Mawr and the University of California (Berkeley) are blending online materials with classroom instruction. Online learning, Merisotis said, “started off on the margins, and now it’s moving towards the center.”


The so-called MOOCs offered by elite colleges have attracted a lot of attention, but they won’t change higher education unless institutions use them in classes or accept them for credit. San Jose State is trying to do both.

Last fall, 83 entry-level students in electrical engineering headed home after class not to read a textbook but to watch “Circuits and Electronics: Introduction to the Lumped Circuit Abstraction,” a lecture course taught by MIT professor Anant Agarwal, who founded edX, MIT’s venture with Harvard to offer online education. Students spent their class time working in small groups, with the instructor and teaching assistant on hand to answer questions. Ninety percent of the students passed the class, compared with as few as 60 percent in past semesters. By emphasizing collaboration and freeing up class time for critical thinking, proponents say, these “flipped classes” prepare students better for 21st-century jobs. EdX and San Jose State recently announced a plan to expand the “flipped” model of Agarwal’s class to as many as 11 other California State University campuses, and the university also expects to offer other blended edX courses.

While the edX collaboration hopes to improve students’ performance, the Udacity partnership focuses on reducing costs while maintaining the quality of education. The courses, which San Jose State professors helped to develop, interweave video, activities, and tests, and use social media to connect students with faculty. “A student told me that it was like sitting and working with a private tutor, ” said Susan McClory, the university’s director of developmental studies. Through the first midterms, Udacity reports, online students taking algebra and statistics performed as well overall as their off-line peers.

Still, there are drawbacks to going entirely online, adjunct professor DeSousa says. Without face-to-face interaction, students can be harder to corral. Some missed the midterm, she said, because they hadn’t read her e-mails. “It’s all really about the student’s attention span.”

At Arizona State University, senior lecturer Irene Bloom has had more success than DeSousa using Web-based technology to help students in remedial math. Her students brush up on their skills with Knewton Math Readiness, an adaptive-learning course that uses complex algorithms to individualize education. As students interact with activities and quizzes, they demonstrate which concepts they’ve mastered and what they need to learn next. They proceed at their own pace, not by following a predetermined syllabus.

When Bloom’s class meets—in a computer lab, twice a week—she roams with an iPad, seeking out students whom her online “dashboard” tells her are struggling. “Rather than lecturing to 60 students about something that five students need, I’m lecturing to the five students who need it,” she says. This year, 2,000 of Arizona State’s 72,000 students worked their way through the Knewton course. Pass rates rose from 64 percent to 75 percent, withdrawal rates dropped in half, and some students moved through the material so fast they completed the course a month early, according to Knewton. The university, impressed with the results, is developing Knewton-powered entry-level courses in psychology, science, and economics.

Arizona State, like San Jose State, offers online courses and degree programs of its own. But ASU is thinking about limiting the number of online classes that on-campus students can take for credit. “One thing we’ve found is that online classes actually require more maturity and discipline than face-to-face classes,” said Philip Regier, Arizona State’s dean of online and extended education. Older students do fine in online courses, but 18-to-23-year-olds often struggle.

Arizona State is betting that hybrid learning will help students pass the general-education classes they need to graduate. One thing these early-adopting universities have learned, however, is that hybrid learning doesn’t necessarily save money—not least because new technologies are expensive to implement.

Entry-level courses are easy to put online because they cover basic material, where the answers tend to be right or wrong. But the equivalent on-campus lecture classes are also the cheapest courses for colleges to produce. At some community colleges, online degree programs aren’t any cheaper than in-person courses, according to Rebecca J. Griffiths, program director of online learning at Ithaka S+R, a consultancy for education technology.

Besides, there are limits to what any computer program, even one as elaborate as Knewton’s, can teach. “The two hardest things for students to do are, one, learn what a good paper topic is or what a good research topic is, and, second, to actually write a coherent paper,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, a professor of health care management at the University of Pennsylvania and a big fan of MOOCs. Online tutors can help students with their writing, but someone still needs to read and grade it. When DeSousa and Bloom teach Web-based classes, they act more as coaches than as lecturers, but their human touch still counts.


Until Web-based technologies entered the classroom and online-degree teaching became ubiquitous, traditional institutions didn’t much question why they were teaching the way they did. As the Spencer Foundation’s McPherson puts it, “What are the right indices of quality? And how good is the stuff we’re doing now? These are not questions that have been asked in higher education.”

New technologies become disruptive when they enter the traditional classroom—and they get colleges thinking about whether the existing model will suffice. In many ways, online education isn’t that different from old-fashioned instruction: Algebra is still algebra, no matter how you do your scratch work. But online tools allow educators to personalize learning in ways that weren’t possible before. This is good news for a system of higher education that’s straining to provide opportunity to everyone who wants to learn.

Access to education means being able to pay for it, and it means being able to succeed academically in a college setting. “You can’t look at the cost question, the attainment question, the quality question in isolation,” said Candace Thille, director of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University. Different technologies will serve different students best, she said, just as no single brick-and-mortar university is right for everyone.

As for students, they’re online already. Head into a lecture hall today, and you’ll see a sea of laptops, with as many students checking Facebook as dutifully taking notes. When students have all the knowledge of the Internet at the touch of their smartphones, the value of an institution lies in how well it helps them learn, not in how many hours they spend in a classroom

SJSU Expands edX Collaboration

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom joined SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi and edX President Anant Agarwal at a news conference on April 10 at King Library announcing a major expansion to the collaboration between SJSU and edX, the not-for-profit online learning enterprise founded by Harvard and MIT. SJSU and edX will establish a Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning at SJSU, grow to serve up to 11 more California State University campuses, and add up to five more edX courses. The event featured a panel discussion with SJSU Lecturer Khosrow Ghadiri, student Sara Compton, Newsom, Qayoumi and Agarwal. Professor of Electrical Engineering Ping Hsu served as moderator.

“It’s not the tyranny of OR. It’s the genius of AND,” Newsom said, comparing conventional classes with the “flipped” approach developed by SJSU and edX.

The SJSU-edX collaboration began in fall 2012, when Ghadiri assigned the MITx 6.002x Circuits and Electronics online materials as homework for his EE98 Introduction to Circuits Analysis course.

“When I’m studying for a midterm and there’s one thing I don’t quite understand, I can’t go back to that lecture in a traditional class, but with this class, I can go back and play it again,” Compton said, explaining how she benefits from viewing MITx lecture sequences online.

Classtime was devoted to discussion and group work. Early indicators have been remarkably positive. View the news conference video.

SJSU/Udacity Offer Summer Classes

SJSU and Udacity Add Summer Courses

SJSU/Udacity Offer Summer Classes

SJSU and Udacity will increase enrollment capacity for current courses (Elementary Statistics, College Algebra and Entry-Level Mathematics) and introduce two new courses (Introduction to Programming and Introduction to Psychology).

SJSU and Udacity have extended our groundbreaking partnership by offering for-credit summer classes. This extension signifies the considerable promise demonstrated in the initial pilot announced in January. We are also underscoring our continued commitment to broadening access to engaging and affordable higher learning through the use of educational technology, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. SJSU and Udacity will increase enrollment capacity for current courses (Elementary Statistics, College Algebra and Entry-Level Mathematics) and introduce two new courses (Introduction to Programming and Introduction to Psychology). The new courses will be available to 1,000 students each. All the courses are open to everyone, including high school, community college and university students from the Bay Area and beyond. Learn more about registration and check out Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun’s blog post. Registration closes May 24 and courses begin June 3.

Edx Classroom

SJSU/EdX Adds More Campuses, Courses

SJSU/EdX Expansion

During SJSU’s fall 2012 EE98 Introduction to Circuits Analysis course, SJSU Lecturer Khosrow Ghadiri used the MITx 6.002x Circuits and Electronics materials on the edX platform. (Christina Olivas photo)

SJSU will open a Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning. The expanded collaboration follows a successful pilot that increased pass rates.

Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU media relations, 408-656-6999
Dan O’Connell, edX media relations, 617-480-6585

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Thousands more California State University students will benefit from a major expansion to the collaboration between San Jose State University and edX, the not-for-profit online learning enterprise founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SJSU and edX detailed this announcement at a news conference April 10. View the video.

An online engineering course in circuits and electronics — created by MIT as an MITx course for the edX platform and offered to San Jose State students for the first time last fall — will be made available to as many as 11 other CSU campuses. The expansion will benefit thousands of students from nearly half of Cal State’s 23 campuses.

San Jose State will concurrently establish a Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning to train faculty members from other campuses interested in offering the engineering course and other blended online courses in the future.

“San Jose State University is thrilled to have the opportunity to grow its groundbreaking collaboration with edX,” President Mohammad Qayoumi said. “As the public university serving Silicon Valley, San Jose State is the perfect place for a center for excellence in online education. We look forward to helping other California State University campuses make available to thousands of students the innovative, blended approach to learning developed by SJSU and edX.”

Once trained at San Jose State, faculty members from other CSU campuses will be equipped to incorporate the MITx 6.002x Circuits and Electronics course offered on the edX platform into their own blended classroom settings. This means students from participating CSU campuses will have access to the rigorous curricular materials — readings, video and interactive exercises — wherever they study, and then meet in class for in-depth discussions and group work facilitated by local professors.

The agreement also sets the stage for the SJSU-edX collaboration to expand well beyond engineering to the sciences, humanities, business and social sciences. SJSU will pilot additional courses from several edX universities including Harvard, MIT and the University of California, Berkeley.

Building on Success

During SJSU’s fall 2012 EE98 Introduction to Circuits Analysis course, SJSU Lecturer Khosrow Ghadiri used the MITx 6.002x Circuits and Electronics materials on the edX platform. His class, comprised of 87 students, viewed the MITx video lectures and completed MITx problem sets outside of class. During class, Ghadiri facilitated 15 minutes of questions and answers, and then devoted the remainder of the class to peer and team instruction and problem solving using materials developed by SJSU faculty members. Early indicators have been remarkably positive. Although the numbers of students were small and classes differed on many factors, the pass rate in the blended class was 91 percent, and the pass rates in the conventional classes were as low as 55 percent.

This spring, SJSU is repeating the experiment with a second section of the same size, refining an approach that could one day be applied not just to engineering, but to students in all STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

“One of the founding principles of edX is to use the power of technology and online learning to improve on-campus education and to innovate in higher education,” said Anant Agarwal, president of edX. “Our collaboration with San Jose State University is a strong example of how well-designed blended learning can engage students and substantially improve learning outcomes. We’re excited to expand our model throughout the California State University system and continue to broaden access to a world-class education.”

New Center for Excellence

At the core of these innovations are faculty members trying new ways to infuse technology into teaching and learning. To support faculty members as they embark on this trailblazing work, SJSU will establish a Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning.

The center will open this summer with a focus on the MITx circuits and electronics course. Initially, the center will serve faculty members at the 11 participating CSU campuses. Over time, the center could grow to serve all of the nearly 22,000 faculty members and more than 426,000 students of the CSU system.

Under the leadership of SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn, the center could also expand to serve other public and private colleges and universities worldwide.

Unbounded Teaching and Learning

The expansion of SJSU’s collaboration with edX is part of a campaign led by President Qayoumi, who argues that educational institutions urgently need new approaches to teaching and assessing learning that are personalized, collaborative, engaging and relate to real-world, 21st-century problems. Join the conversation at Unbounded: Teaching and learning without limits.

“San Jose State’s online initiatives are about far more than a single subject, technique or campus,” Qayoumi said. “Our work is about trying many new approaches, identifying what works and pushing forward a national conversation on effective ways to infuse the opportunities offered by technology into the way we teach and learn.”

About San Jose State University

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,500 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

About edX

EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX uses its open source technology to transcend physical and social borders. We’re focused on people, not profit. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.