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 MIT and Harvard University. SJSU and edX detailed this announcement at a news conference April 10.
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.
SJSU 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,” SJSU 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 SJSU, 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 at Berkeley.
Building on success
During SJSU’s fall 2012 EE98 (Introduction to Circuits Analysis) course, SJSU lecturer Khosrow Ghadiri used the 6.002x materials on the edX platform. His class 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, with pass rates increasing from as low as 55 percent of students in conventional classes to 91 percent of students passing in the blended class.
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 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 and a professor of computer science and engineering at MIT. “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.”