Purdue partners with edX to offer free online courses to anyone in the world

December 15, 2014  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University will partner with global leader edX, the nonprofit learning destination founded by MIT and Harvard, through a two-year agreement to begin offering a lineup of selected Purdue courses to anyone anytime with an Internet connection.

The first PurdueX courses, being developed by Purdue NExT and nanoHUB-U, will roll out this spring through the agreement with edX, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based leader of so-called "massively open online courses," or MOOCs.

The Purdue-led nanoHUB-U will develop five nanotechnology courses through 2016, and Purdue NExT, which has a stable of nearly 40 online courses, will lead development of five new courses for edX. Purdue also is soliciting faculty participants to develop other courses that may be appropriate for offering through this platform.

"The goal of this partnership between Purdue and edX is to determine the potential for significant impact we can have on students and professionals around the world by offering Purdue courses through edX's MOOC platform," said Stephen Beaudoin, interim associate vice provost for academic affairs at Purdue.

Purdue chemical engineering professor Bryan Boudouris will teach a five-week organic electronic devices course and communications professor Bart Collins will offer a five-week course on strategic communication, both beginning Feb. 12. And later this spring, Supriyo Datta, the Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will start a course on edX featuring his approach to nanoelectronics.

Students or industry professionals aren't required to be registered at Purdue to take the edX course, but they must register through edX.org. And while they won't receive credit, they can pay a small fee to receive a certificate or nonacademic credit indicating they completed the course satisfactorily.

To register for the PurdueX classes at edX, go online to: https://www.edx.org/school/purduex

"From science and art to technology and nanoenginereering, edX is pleased to partner with Purdue and its impressive lineup of online classes offered by some of the best professors in the world," said Anant Agarwal, chief executive officer of edX. "Edx invites everyone anywhere to access our peer-to-peer social learning tools to connect with smart and passionate people from around the world."

Boudouris' Purdue online course, Organic Electronic Devices, currently is directed at a mix of upper-level undergraduate and graduate students, focused on organic materials such as polymers and their ability to conduct electricity. This five-week class has five modules with five 20-minute online lectures each week, delivered via YouTube, and also provides students with quizzes, homework assignments and a test each week.

"These classes offered by Purdue through edX could dramatically increase the number of students who could take a given course - anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand students," Boudouris said. "Hopefully, people will think of Purdue when they think about polymer electronics now."

Communicating Strategically, the course taught by Collins and associate communication professor Melanie Morgan, will offer the essentials of communication strategy, geared for presentations by scientists, engineers, technical professionals and others who communicate with non-scientists, usually management, to inform organizational decision-making.

"Most college students get some helpful training in communication, but these courses cover information that, without practice, is often forgotten," Collins said. "By the time these students begin to develop expertise in specific disciplines and begin working in certain industries, the communication needs become specialized and more challenging. This PurdueX course through edX will provide a refresher for our global leaders of tomorrow."

Datta is revamping his popular nanoHUB.org course, Fundamentals of Nanoelectronics-Part I, for edX in the spring. He will use the second edition of his pioneering book, "Lessons from Nanoelectronics: A New Perspective on Transport."

"We're excited to take this Purdue class to the next level through edX for advancing our efforts and reach as a global university," said Datta, who is known for his contribution to quantum transport modeling in nanoscale electronic devices. "We also hope to gain hints and tips from edX that improve our Purdue online offerings on Purdue NExT and nanoHUB-U."

Nearly a thousand students registered for Datta's prior courses, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Datta also has used the flipped classroom, or blended learning, model. He lectures or provides other class content over the Web via prerecorded videos, so the classroom can be used to answer questions and clarify conceptual issues.

"We think the potential is great through this Purdue-edX partnership to deliver these advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate-level courses taught by world-class faculty," said Mark Lundstrom, the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer and founding director of nanoHUB.org.

About Purdue NExT

Purdue NExT is designed for higher education institutions looking to supplement degree programs and elevate current curricula, better preparing students to be immediately productive in their careers upon graduation; businesses looking to deliver mass, applied training to employees in order to stay competitive; and individuals looking to expand their expertise including undergraduate students, graduate students and professionals. The concept for Purdue NExT grew out of a successful 2011 experiment at Purdue in modular, online, not-for-credit courses through nanoHUB-U.

About nanoHUB-U

A part of nanoHUB.org, nanoHUB-U is an Internet-based initiative that provides online courses designed to bring the insights and understanding gained in nanotechnology research into the education of students and working engineers. The Purdue-led nanoHUB has become the first broadly successful, cloud-computing environment for research across multiple disciplines, with over 1,100 citations in scientific literature and 15,000 secondary citations, with one-third of those papers involving experimental data. It also has evolved well beyond online simulation for research. More than 22,000 students in 1,165 formal classes at 185 institutions across the globe have used nanoHUB simulations for classroom teaching, homework and projects. It also has a library of 4,000 learning resources including papers, presentations, courses and more. Funded by the National Science Foundation, Purdue launched the Network for Computational Nanotechnology in 2002 to advance nanoscience toward nanotechnology via online simulations on nanoHUB.org.

Media Contacts: Phillip Fiorini, Purdue University, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu 

Emil Venere, Purdue University, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Nancy Moss, edX, 617-324-7072, nancy@edx.org 

Sources: Stephen Beaudoin, 765-496-2023, sbeaudoi@purdue.edu

Bryan Boudouris, 765-496-6056, boudouris@purdue.edu

Supriyo Datta, 765 494-3511, datta@purdue.edu

Bart Collins, 765-496-1586, bcollins@purdue.edu

Mark Lundstrom, 765 494-3515 lundstro@purdue.edu

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