Norman, OK (USA), November 2013 - The face of education is quickly evolving. In a worldwide study, Edudemic, an education-technology site, has reported that within three years, 43 percent of schools will offer online interactive courses available to anyone around the world. The research revealed that 84 of those queried said they believe these online courses complement residential education.
Over the last year, the energy and excitement in the online sector has been amplified by the entrance of top universities like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford into the market.
Now, the University of Oklahoma has launched its own online interactive learning community called Janux, a unique open platform that features some of OU's top faculty and innovative social-learning technologies connecting learners in real time around the globe.
The University of Oklahoma has partnered with NextThought to develop Janux Interactive Learning Community, available to anyone with Internet access. Janux was developed as part of OU's broader efforts to use technology to improve the student experience and extend access to higher education and academic content.
"What OU is doing is genuinely exciting," said Kyle Harper, senior vice provost at the University of Oklahoma. "It puts powerful new technology in the hands of professors and students. It opens OU's amazing resources to the world. This is the future."
The site opened to the public on 21 October 2013, and anyone with an Internet connection is able to access the content of the courses hosted on the platform.
Six courses, including "Law and Justice" and "Understanding the Global Community," are live and operational. In spring 2014, Janux will add fourteen additional classes – for a total of twenty – including "History of Science," "Introduction to Computer Programming", and "Science of Hydraulic Fracturing." OU students may enroll in the courses for credit, while others can experience the lectures, readings, discussions, and quizzes for free without earning credit.
The twenty open courses offered by Janux will set the record as the highest number to be offered within the first year of operation by any university.
Janux allows students to connect, collaborate, and discuss the courses in which they are enrolled - all online. Courses on Janux feature short, high-quality video lectures to help students master difficult concepts and online quizzes allow them to test their progress. Interactive whiteboards allow students to communicate and understand concepts in a more visual and convenient way. Janux goes beyond other platforms by allowing students to share notes, form groups, chat live, and interact with other students and professors throughout the entirety of the course.
"Janux is the next generation of learning technology," Harper said. "It meets digital natives where they live, bringing the power of social networks to the education space. This is how our students want to learn. They learn by interacting and collaborating with one another – no matter the distance – one concept at a time."
Through the online community, students can stay connected and develop their own social networks. According to the Edudemic study, continued shifts in education may result in more diverse methods for learning that incorporate technology and social resources.
"The purpose of the Internet is sharing, connection, and access," Harper said. "Janux reflects this purpose."