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April 11, 2005

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Offers Free Course Content Online

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has launched the initial phase of its OpenCourseWare project, which provides free and open access to some of the School’s most popular courses. The course content is available through the Internet to students, self-learners and educators anywhere in the world.

“OpenCourseWare is really a departure, because it provides everyone with access to a wealth of knowledge and information,” said James D. Yager, PhD, head of the OpenCourseWare project at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and senior associate dean for Academic Affairs. “The main beneficiaries of OpenCourseWare may be in the developing world, where students cannot afford textbooks, or at universities that are looking for help when setting up courses. This service will be a tremendous resource for them.”

OpenCourseWare differs from the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s distance-learning initiatives because it does not involve an active exchange of information between faculty and students and because courses are not offered for credit, degrees or certificates. OpenCourseWare provides encouragement for self-learners to seek formal education; complementary materials for students at the Bloomberg School or other institutions; information with which faculty can plan course curricula; and continuing education for public health practitioners.

The OpenCourseWare concept was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2001. In February 2005, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Harvard University Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Tufts University and Utah State University met informally with MIT to develop their own OpenCourseWare plans. The OpenCourseWare project at the Bloomberg School of Public Health is supported by a $200,000 pilot grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

OpenCourseWare classes are available online at http://ocw.jhsph.edu. Currently, five courses are available: “Understanding Cost Effectiveness Analysis in Health Care,” “Statistical Reasoning in Public Health,” “Family Planning Policies and Programs,” “Problem Solving for Immunization Programs” and “History of Public Health.” Five additional courses are expected to be online by the end of April 2005. The School hopes to add 75 to 100 courses in the next five years.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Lowe at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.