What is AlaskaX?
edX is a global nonprofit education platform founded by Harvard and MIT in 2012. Since then, more than 34 million learners have accessed edX. In August 2020 UAF began offering courses on the edX platform, where we are known as AlaskaX. In this time, we have seen 7,200 enrollments from 134 countries. AlaskaX currently has eight course offerings, including one program, with more in development.
Reaching the World
edX provides an opportunity to share UAF’s leadership in Arctic research with the world. Franz Meyer, chief scientist at the Alaska Satellite Facility, currently has 2,800 students enrolled in his course on Synthetic Aperture Radar. These learners come from 120 different countries, including 130 learners from India and 81 from Pakistan.
The course One Health: A Ten Thousand Year-Old View into the Future, from Arleigh Reynolds and the Center for One Health, has been able to reach global audiences at a time when the intersection of human, animal and environmental health is more important than ever.
AlaskaX courses are not only providing open access to cutting-edge science and research, they are bringing new enrollments to UAF courses. Meyer’s spring 2021 Microwave Remote Sensing course has 23 non-UAF students enrolled, most of them by way of edX. Reynolds and his team launched their edX course alongside their new master’s in One Health offering. Their team was hoping for at least five students in the initial cohort; they got 30, including students from Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Through these open courses, edX offers a new pathway for enrollment into traditional programs.
Taking on a Challenge
Creating an edX course offers faculty the chance to innovate on a world-class platform. For Peter Westley, offering an edX version of his Salmon, People, and Place course was a welcome challenge: “This process of offering my course on edX was the most inspiring, satisfying and time-consuming endeavor of my teaching career thus far.”
“It is easy for us as instructors to get locked in doing what we do, year after year, without having an opportunity to step back and ask why we are doing things the way we are. For me, edX forced me to be clear on the most pressing topics and communicate those in a way that cut to the core of the issues.”
Westley’s course is now wrapping up its second edX offering, and the experience of his learners seems to reflect his positive experience as an instructor:
“I loved the combination of professor dialogue, video, readings, quizzes and discussions. I felt that the course was incredibly engaging and interesting.”
It Takes a Team
Our hardworking AlaskaX faculty have brought their vision and passion to their course developments by utilizing a team approach. Closely supported throughout the process by eCampus instructional designers, the development teams consist of faculty, graduate assistants, staff, students, and others who contribute to development and delivery efforts. These teams’ broad expertise helps create rich educational environments for diverse learners from across the globe.
Information and Connections
Join in the discussion Thursday, April 22, 2021, at 1 p.m. at UAF Faculty Accelerator: Driving Public Outreach Through edX Courses
Have an idea for what might make a great AlaskaX course? Fill out our AlaskaX Course Idea form to start the conversation.