Purdue announces global online education initiative

May 11, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University President France A. Córdova on Friday (May 11) announced the formation of PurdueHUB-U, an online education initiative expected to extend from Purdue classrooms to around the planet.

Based on HUBzero, a powerful computing platform developed at Purdue and combined with an emphasis on learner-centered modular course development and distribution, PurdueHUB-U is intended to ensure Purdue expertise and education remains a recognized leader in global education and engagement.

"Online education is transforming higher education, flipping classroom dynamics and reaching into the farthest corners of the world," Córdova told the Purdue Board of Trustees. "The winners will be those who have the platform, can be cost competitive and capture the imagination of the learner. Purdue University is one of the winners."

Córdova said PurdueHUB-U would augment Purdue Extended Campus, the university's central resource for distance education activities for credit and continuing education, and the Purdue International Academy, which is being developed to work with certificate programs for executives and working professionals.

Córdova pointed to the success of a course recently taught online on Purdue's nanoHUB, a National Science Foundation-funded international nanotechnology resource with 450,000 visitors and 218,000 engaged users. The two-part pilot course, "Basic Concepts of Nanoelectronics," taught by Supriyo Datta, Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, attracted 900 students overall from 27 countries. The majority were graduate students or industry professionals, most of whom paid $30 for the class and a certificate of completion.

The nanoHUB-U platform allowed learners to watch video lectures, test concepts through visualization and computation, submit homework, take tests, and interact with other students and the professor all within the single environment and without downloading or purchasing software.

Tim Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, said that the platform and its integrated assessment, simulation, discussion and interaction capabilities is a critical strength of the Purdue approach. He also expects the modular approach to coursework will allow the same content to be adapted in a flexible manner across a wide range of delivery formats, ranging from blended learning for on-campus courses, to low-cost, low-touch programs available to individuals and institutions.

"There's demand for affordable, targeted education that still allows students to ask questions and get feedback from great teachers like Supriyo Datta," Sands said. "Short, targeted modules will allow students and professionals to construct their own educational programs to meet their specific needs."

Sands said he also expects the platform to be used by on-campus courses as Purdue faculty begin to flip some classes, with lectures watched online outside of class and class time reserved for what used to be homework - problem-solving and group activities. Purdue is currently transforming 30 critical courses per year through its Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation (IMPACT) project.

PurdueHUB-U will be seeded with $2 million over four years. The project is estimated to break even, with revenue covering expenses, within five years.

The Purdue International Academy and Purdue Extended Campus are part of the university's Decadal Funding Plan, an initiative to develop additional sources of financial support and reduce reliance on state appropriations and tuition increases. Other initiatives include a trimester campus calendar to make more efficient use of facilities and offer students an accelerated path to graduation and an Innovation and Commercialization Center to move research discoveries to the marketplace more quickly.

Writer: Chris Sigurdson, 765-496-2644, sig@purdue.edu

Sources: France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                  Tim Sands, 765-494-9709, tsands@purdue.edu