Tens of thousands of students have already signed up to take the School of Public Health's first two massive open online courses (MOOCs), Mathematical Biostatistics Boot Camp taught by Brian Caffo and Computing for Data Analysis taught by Roger Peng. Both will launch over the weekend, so it isn't too late to sign up. They are free and open to anyone.
Both courses are built around a series of pre-recorded lectures. They also feature discussion forums, homework assignments, and graded assessments. Students who successfully complete the courses will receive a statement of successful completion from Coursera, the company that hosts these courses and six others that will launch over the coming months.
You have no doubt heard a great deal of blog chatter and media coverage about the emergence of MOOCs. This is an exciting new frontier in education, and there is much to be learned about the effectiveness of these kinds of courses.
JHSPH is experimenting with this new form of teaching as a potential next step beyond its OpenCourseWare project. OCW is a repository of top-notch teaching materials produced by JHSPH faculty for use by educators and independent learners. OCW is not going away, and it will continue to grow as we add materials from more courses.
However, OCW does not offer students the opportunity to either interact with faculty and fellow learners or demonstrate their acheivement of course learning objectives. In Coursera, students will be able to communicate with their instructors and their peers, and they will be able to take graded assessments to show what they have learned. It is our hope that this new model will help the School broaden the reach of its educational mission by making its world-class faculty and their expertise more widely available to a massive population of learners.
To see a full list of JHSPH offerings on Coursera, visit https://www.coursera.org/jhu.