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EdX and San Jose State Announce Partnership for MOOCs In Blended Classes

Christina Olivas via SJSU

Christina Olivas via SJSU


San Jose Sate University and edX, the nonprofit MOOC provider founded by Harvard and M.I.T, announced a new partnership today to use edX MOOC materials in for-credit blended classes at California State University campuses.

The initiative would build on the model piloted last semester by SJSU Lecturer Khosrow Ghadiri who incorporates the edX MOOC MITx 6.002x Circuits and Electronics into his EE98 Introduction to Circuits Analysis course. He essentially flips the classroom, having his 87 on-campus students use the MOOC materials, including lectures, readings and quizzes, alongside the tens of thousands of other MOOC students. He then devotes classroom time to small-group activities, projects and quizzes to check progress.

The new project announced today would facilitate use of the same model for faculty at other C.S.U. campuses who teach similar electronic engineering courses. SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi said that three to five additional blended courses in the humanities, business and social sciences could also be incorporating edX MOOC materials by this fall. He said 11 of the 23 CSU campuses have indicated interest.

Participating faculty will be trained through a new Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Online Blended Learning that SJSU will launch this summer.

Qayoumi says 91% percent of students in Ghadiri’s course passed last fall versus 51% in previous semesters.

“This is a unique opportunity for faculty to gear the course to individual student,” said Ghadiri. “You can monitor them every single day, not just at the midterm or final. It is self efficacy for the student. This edX material is not just a copycat of lectures. There is a lot of thought that went into it. Look at these videos and then you can see what the state of the art is.”

As part of the partnership, faculty using the edX MOOC material will also have access to backend functions including, edX Studio and a dashboard, which will allow instructors to curate the material for their particular courses and to dig into some user analytics.

When asked if edX is charging for the materials, edX President, Anant Agarwal, said, “Even though we are a nonprofit, we have to be self-sustaining over the long term. Think of it as like a next generation textbook. The details have not been worked out. There will be some kind of licensing model in place where there will be some kind of fee associated with it, and my hope is that it can be a net win for everybody by being able to provide a rich experience for the students, improve learning outcomes and at the same time also be able to reduce costs for everybody concerned.”

Qayoumi emphasized that there’s no additional cost to students and that if fewer students are repeating the course, that is a savings for the student, the university and the state.

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said this project showed that fears MOOCs will harm universities are overblown.

“This is an opportunity to open up access at scale and with extraordinary quality and results. My favorite business book, Built to Last, makes the distinction between the tyranny of ‘or’ versus the genius of ‘and.’ No one is arguing that we’re going to get rid of those educational opportunities that exist today and we’re now going to shift it all online. That is not what this is about. I know there’s  lot of fear about that. It’s not one or the other. It’s additive. It’s an additional access point that may work well for you.”

Below is a full copy of the press release from the announcement.


San Jose State University and edX Announce Course Expansion to 11 California State University Campuses

SJSU will open a Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning. The expanded collaboration follows a promising pilot where edX blended model correlated with higher pass rates.


SAN JOSE, CALIF. – 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 Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SJSU and edX detailed this announcement at a news conference April 10. View the video at


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.


San Jose State 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,” 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 San Jose State, 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, Berkeley.


Building on Success

During SJSU’s fall 2012 EE98 Introduction to Circuits Analysis course, SJSU Lecturer Khosrow Ghadiri used the MITx 6.002x Circuits and Electronics materials on the edX platform. His class, comprised 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. Although the numbers of students were small and classes differed on many factors, the pass rate in the blended class was 91 percent, and the pass rates in the conventional classes were as low as 55%.


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 STEM (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. “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.”


New Center for Excellence

At the core of these innovations are faculty members trying new ways to infuse technology into teaching and learning. To support faculty members as they embark on this trailblazing work, SJSU will establish a Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning.


The center will open this summer with a focus on the MITx circuits and electronics course. Initially, the center will serve faculty members at the 11 participating CSU campuses. Over time, the center could grow to serve all of the nearly 22,000 faculty members and more than 426,000 students of the CSU system.


Under the leadership of SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn, the center could also expand to serve other public and private colleges and universities worldwide.


Unbounded Teaching and Learning

The expansion of SJSU’s collaboration with edX is part of a campaign led by President Qayoumi, who argues that educational institutions urgently need new approaches to teaching and assessing learning that are personalized, collaborative, engaging and relate to real-world, 21st-century problems. Join the conversation at Unbounded: Teaching and learning without limits.


“San Jose State’s online initiatives are about far more than a single subject, technique or campus,” Qayoumi said. “Our work is about trying many new approaches, identifying what works and pushing forward a national conversation on effective ways to infuse the opportunities offered by technology into the way we teach and learn.”


About San Jose State University

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,500 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.


About edX

EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX uses its open source technology to transcend physical and social borders. We’re focused on people, not profit. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.



Robert McGuire (52 Posts)

My content marketing services firm provides all-in-one external staff solutions for companies looking to grow their business through thought leadership. I started MOOC News & Reviews in 2013 out of a fascination with the economic, demographic and technological forces impacting edtech, online education and higher education, and I wanted to provide a forum for serious discussion of this new phenomenon. I love building communities of writers engaging in lively critical dialogue about emerging issues.


  1. Interesting, but the article is written quite poorly and the quotes really could have been phrased or incorporated into the article in a much better manner, it really does compromise the grammar and the flow of your sentences. I expected much better quality from an english professor.
    Also, for the record- I’m in Professor Ghadiri’s class and these MOOC classes are a terrible idea. Professors from MIT explain concepts over the web that cannot be reinforced or clarified by professors at SJSU. Students that pay tuition should be able to get the face-to-face education they signed up for.

    • Care to write a review of it for us, Anna? We’d certainly be glad to hear your opinion in a developed critique — not of the idea of MOOCs itself; other sites are covering that question — but of this particular MOOC. Check out the Write For Us page and be in touch.