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October 24, 2014

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health MOOC Enrollment Tops Two Million

Second million-student milestone for the School’s MOOCs this year; enrollment reached one million in March


Enrollment in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health faculty through the platform Coursera topped two million this month. In March, the School’s MOOC enrollment, for courses ranging from training volunteer community health workers to a nine-course series in data science, surpassed one million. Enrollment hit two million on October 10.

The School, long a pioneer in online learning, was among the first to offer MOOCs when Coursera was launched in 2012 by two Stanford professors. MOOCs were conceived to bring free, high-level instruction to anyone with access to the Internet. Coursera’s MOOCs are still available at no charge, but, in a growing trend, some courses can be taken on a fee basis to enable participants to earn a certificate for individual classes or a specialization certificate for a series of courses.

The School’s MOOC enrollees hail from over 185 countries. More than half – 1.1 million in all – have enrolled in Data Science Specialization courses taught by faculty in the Department of Biostatistics, with nearly 50,000 earning certificates as of October 15.

“The exponential popularity of the School’s MOOCs continues to demonstrate the demand for high quality instruction on public-health-related subjects around the globe,” says Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Whether it’s to strengthen data science skills, understand critical public-health concepts or enhance professional development, MOOCs allow faculty to share their expertise with learners everywhere. “

The School currently offers 24 MOOCs on a range of topics. This week, “Training and Learning Programs for Volunteer Community Health Workers” started a seven-week series. Its instructor, William Brieger, DrPh, MPH, a professor in the Department of International Health, is in Monrovia, Liberia, working with health professionals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who want to help with Liberia’s Ebola situation. Brieger expects that his work in Liberia will inform his MOOC discussions in the coming weeks and beyond.  The course’s first email contained the subject line: “Training in the Time of Ebola.”

On November 3, “Major Depression in the Population: A Public Health Approach,” taught by William Eaton, PhD, a professor in the Department of Mental Health, and colleagues, begins a seven-week series of classes. On January 20, 2015, Keeve Nachman, PhD, and Robert Lawrence, MD, of the Center for a Livable Future kick off their six-week, “An Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Perspectives from Public Health.”

Next week, the Data Science Specialization series taught by faculty in the School’s biostatistics department will start its first capstone course. The course, available only to those who completed the first nine courses in the series, will use materials developed by SwiftKey, an app developer and one of the first private-sector firms to contribute to a Coursera MOOC. Those who successfully complete the capstone course will earn so-called Signature Track certification, the highest certification level presently offered through Coursera.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was among the first to offer an online graduate degree in public health, with the introduction of its part-time Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program in 1999. The School began offering for-credit online courses to full- and part-time students in 1997. In 2005, the School joined the open educational resources (OER) movement by launching JHSPH OpenCourseWare, a repository of free instructional materials from more than 100 courses taught at the School.

In addition to its 24 current MOOCs, the School currently offers 26 for-credit online courses and publishes teaching materials from 112 courses through the Bloomberg School’s OpenCourseWare, its OER portal, making it one of the world’s largest providers of online public health education.

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Media contacts for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Barbara Benham at 410-614-6029 or and Stephanie Desmon at 410-955-7619 or