SAN JOSE, CASan Jose State University invited members of the media Oct. 18 to experience a collaboration with edX, the transformational new online educational initiative founded by MIT and Harvard, resulting in SJSU’s first “flipped class.” View a video of the news conference.

Preliminary results described in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggest this class, which is using an electrical engineering MOOC (the MITx 6.002x Circuits and Electronics Massively Online Open Course), may be an effective way to reinvent and transform the academic experience of electrical engineering students.

“Public higher education needs a new teaching model,” SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi said. “Advances in technology, the expansion of online learning and the needs and expectations of tech-savvy students are changing the role of colleges and universities.”

EdX Collaboration

SJSU’s innovative effort brought together the not-for-profit edX, which offers interactive education wherever there is Internet access, and the only public university serving Silicon Valley.

SJSU serves 30,000 students, including 4,600 engineering students on the threshold of the world’s leading tech companies including Adobe, Apple and Cisco. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked SJSU’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering third in the nation among master’s level public universities excluding service academies.

“Here at San Jose State, in the heart of Silicon Valley, there is so much that is happening in terms of innovation and technology,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn. “This is the right time for this institution to really step up and try to utilize some of the new technologies for the purposes of improving student learning.”

This past summer, SJSU faculty members traveled to Cambridge, Mass., to meet and work with the edX team. Their goal was to integrate 6.002x materials into an SJSU course.

SJSU students have been viewing and using online materials as homework, including lectures, quizzes and virtual labs available through the edX platform. Then they go to class to work through problem sets with their instructor, thereby flipping the conventional approach of lectures in class and problem sets at home.

Watching Lectures Anywhere

“The best thing about the class is I can watch the lectures anywhere,” said Jordan Carter, ’14 Mechanical Engineering. “I have watched the videos at my own home. I’ve watched the videos on the light rail train coming to school. It’s really convenient.”

Today, the men and women of SJSU’s first flipped class met their online instructor in person for the first time. The instructor for MITx 6.002x is Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and edX President who is capturing the attention of learners worldwide with his engaging, substantive online lectures.

SJSU faculty members and students shared their experiences, including their midterm exam results. These results represent the first-ever, classroom-based preliminary data assessment of the San Jose State University experiment, designed to see if MOOC material can effectively enhance student learning in a for-credit class at a major university.

“We found that midterm exam scores of students in the flipped class were higher than those in the traditional classes,” SJSU Lecturer of Electrical Engineering Khosrow Ghadiri said. “Although the midterm questions were more difficult for the flipped students, their median score was 10 to 11 points higher than those for two other sections of students who took a traditional version of the course.”

SJSU’s Next Generation Initiative

SJSU recently launched a $28 million initiative to upgrade the campus’ information technology infrastructure while supporting faculty efforts to use and apply these next-generation technologies to better support student learning.

This effort is part of an even larger campaign led by SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi, who argues educational institutions urgently need new approaches to teaching and assessing learning that are personalized, collaborative, engaging and that relate to real-world, 21st-century problems.

Learn more via President Qayoumi’s newly published white paper, “Reinventing Higher Education: A Call to Action.”

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.