Cal State to offer online engineering course at 11 more campuses

An online engineering course at San Jose State that has shown promise in improving student performance will be expanded to 11 other California State University campuses next fall, officials announced Wednesday.

The San Jose campus, which has been a leader in adopting new technologies, will also establish a new Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning to train faculty members from other campuses interested in offering the class.

The initiative was announced at a news conference attended by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who along with Gov. Jerry Brown has been pushing universities to pursue online education as a way to curtail costs and serve more students.

The governor’s 2013-14 budget proposal includes about $17 million for community colleges and $10 million each for the University of California and Cal State to increase online classes.

Newsom, who recalled how his infant daughter was fascinated by his iPad, said that generation will demand new learning tools.


“These folks are wired differently than you and I and can’t be educated the way you and I were,” he said. “It’s about more choices, more flexibility to deal with the need now more than ever to educate young people so we can compete.”

San Jose State began offering the course in circuits and electronics last year in a collaboration with EdX, a not-for-profit enterprise founded by Harvard University and MIT to offer online interactive university-level courses.

The engineering course was created by MIT and includes videotaped lectures and virtual labs. The San Jose project incorporates those with classroom discussions led by the school’s professors.

Early results found that students in this blended class setting passed at a rate of 91%, compared with a 55% pass rate for students in the conventional class.

Student Sara Compton said the class was more time-consuming but allowed for more time to comprehend the material.

“Sometimes it’s hard to catch everything, but if you miss something you can go back and play [the video] again,” she said.

Anant Agarwal, president of EdX, said online learning is the “next generation textbook,” providing a new set of tools for professors.

The San Jose State-EdX collaboration is poised to include other courses in the sciences, humanities, business and social sciences, officials said.

Earlier this year, San Jose State partnered with the Silicon Valley online education group Udacity to offer low-cost, online classes in high-demand entry-level math classes.

“The work we’re doing with EdX coupled with Udacity will help us be able to serve a larger number of students and not only serve them but help a larger number of them graduate,” San Jose State President Mohammad Qayoumi said.