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San Jose State Integrates EdX Into Courses

By Amna H. Hashmi, Crimson Staff Writer

San Jose State University will offer more courses that integrate Harvard’s virtual learning platform edX into their lesson plans, as well as work with other California universities to replicate this initiative at schools across the state, SJSU and edX announced Wednesday.

In these blended courses, also known as flipped classrooms, students watch video sequences and complete online exercises at home. Class-time is then used to review the difficult concepts, ask the professor questions, and test understanding of the material through quizzes and practice problems.

This past fall, SJSU Lecturer Khosrow Ghadiri supplemented his introductory circuit course, EE98: “Introduction to Circuits Analysis,” with material from the edx class MITx 6.002: “Circuits and Electronics.” When he did so, the pass rate for his class grew to 91 percent, a massive increase over the 59 percent of people who passed the class when it was taught in the traditional lecture format.

“We believe we have provided a new set of tools for a professor. The textbook was invented 500 years ago, the chalkboard in the 1800s. What tools have we given since then?” said edX President Anant Agarwal during a press conference Wednesday.

California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White pointed out during the press conference that blended learning might be a potential solution to funding shortages facing public universities.

An enormous number of people that seek admission to public universities each year, White said, “but we cannot meet student demand.”

Additionally, SJSU announced that it will establish a Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning, where faculty from other universities will be trained on how to use blended classrooms.

“I believe the future of public universities rests in our willingness to collaborate and innovate,” said SJSU President Mohammad H. Qayoumi.

So far 11 of California State University System’s 23 campuses have expressed interest in offering MITx 6.002 in their classrooms in the model of SJSU’s pilot program.

In the fall, SJSU plans to pilot a course that incorporate material from four other edX classes, including offerings from HarvardX. Their decision to do so will expand the blended classroom into disciplines including the humanities and social sciences.

Ghadiri, who will offer the blended course on circuits again next semester, said that the collaboration between edX and SJSU has served as an asset in his classroom.

“The faculty should not be scared that they will lose their jobs, and students should not be scared that they are in the cold by themselves looking at some videos,” Ghadiri said. “This blended model of learning will be the future of academia.”

—Staff writer Amna H. Hashmi can be reached at amnahashmi@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter @amna_hashmi.

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