learning impact 2018 DARTMOUTHX


Dartmouth College joined edX, the nonprofit online learning platform founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The partnership underscores the College’s commitment to leadership in the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.

“As home to some of the finest teachers in higher education, we are excited to explore how new technologies can further the reach of our excellence,” says Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon ’77. “By joining edX, we enable our faculty to pave the way for the future, discovering new ways to teach that will take Dartmouth classrooms to the world.”

“I see a MOOC as a textbook rather than a class; a textbook with videos". – Professor Vicki May, The Engineering of Structures Around Us
Professor Steve Swayne, back row, second from right, with the OperaX Course Team.


  • Expand access to learning for everyone, including Dartmouth lifelong learners
  • Enhance the Dartmouth liberal arts model of teaching and learning
  • Advance teaching and learning through research, experimentation and collaboration

Through edX’s online platform, students of any age in any location can take courses free of charge (without academic credit) from some of the world’s finest universities, now including Dartmouth.

As a member of edX, Dartmouth offered its first MOOC in fall 2014, with eight more open online courses taught to date. The courses are taught by Dartmouth faculty members, who receive substantial support from staff in Academic Computing and the Library to create and manage online course content.

EdX’s mission to expand access to high quality education while improving outcomes, online and in the classroom, is supported by the organization’s commitment to research on effective teaching and learning. The thousands of students who participate in DartmouthX courses enables faculty to innovate and evaluate the results using large amounts of data on student interaction with online course material.

“Information is at students’ fingertips far more readily than it ever has been before, and the amount of information has expanded exponentially. So we as instructors need to focus more on teaching students ways of weighing information responsibly.” — Professor Steve Swayne, Italian and German OperaX
Vijay Govindarajan, Coxe Distinguished Professor, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College


  • To date, over 120,000 lifelong learners have enrolled in DartmouthX courses.
  • Two-thirds of learners live outside of the United States.
  • DartmouthX courses have very high rates of active engagement for open online education compared to peers, with one-third of enrolled users actively participating in a course during a given week.
3,608 recorded minutes of video content


  • Introduction to Environmental Science (Andy Friedland)
  • The Engineering of Structures Around Us (Vicki May)
  • Introduction to German and Italian Opera (Steve Swayne)
  • Question Reality! Science, Philosophy, and the Search for Meaning (Marcelo Gleiser)
  • Retail Fundamentals (Santiago Gallino)
  • Omnichannel Retail (Santiago Gallino)
  • The American Renaissance: Classic Literature of the 19th Century (Don Pease and Jed Dobson)
  • Bipedalism: The Science of Upright Walking (Jerry DeSilva)
  • Breakthrough Innovations with the 3-Box Framework (Vijay Govindarajan)
Professor Jerry DeSilva, Bipedalism: The Science of Upright Walking


  • Medical Inference: A Primer on Critically Evaluating Medical Research (Gil Welch)
  • Free Will, Attention, Top-Down Causation, and Consciousness in the Brain (Peter Tse)
  • Sports Materials X (Rachel Obbard)
  • John Milton’s Paradise Lost (Tom Luxon)
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Mark Spaller)
  • C Programming for the Beginner (Petra Bonfert-Taylor)
“We want this course to be a community—not only us downloading information to people’s laptops. We want to encourage people to interact with one another in the learning process.” — Professor Steve Swayne, Italian and German OperaX
Gustavo De Almeida Silva '20
“I’m a freshman, and I’ve never worked on a project of this scale and with people who are much older than me. I thought that my responsibilities were going to be very limited, but I am really part of it. I am expected to make suggestions and to take a lot of initiative.” — Gustavo De Almeida Silva ’20 Teaching Assistant in Question Reality

A Dartmouth course, whether it be fully face-to-face or a combination of online and residential learning, is all about the learning relationship that our faculty and students create. Our faculty know our students well, and they work to create as individual and personalized learning experiences as possible. Our decision to join the edX Consortium and participate in open online learning represents a commitment to advance the Dartmouth scholar-educator of liberal arts learning by advancing our learning about learning.

We think of our open DartmouthX courses as a laboratory in which faculty and non-faculty Dartmouth educators can collaborate to try new ways to leverage technology for teaching. We can use the large numbers of learners in our DartmouthX courses to refine digital learning materials, from assessments to simulations to short videos, measuring what is most engaging and effective for learners. We can then take the best of these digital learning materials and bring them back our traditional residential Dartmouth classes.

Professor Marcelo Gleiser and Mike Goudzwaard, Lead DartmouthX Learning Designer, Question Reality!
“Teaching an entire career at a university like Dartmouth, you’re only going to reach a fraction of the number of people you reach teaching a single DartmouthX course. The point is not to keep this conversation within academia—it’s not just for the professors or the scientists, it’s for the world at large. So a massive online course is an obvious channel, because you are opening up your conversation to thousands of people. And of course the theme of the course lends itself to precisely that cross-disciplinary mission. We talk about questions that you cannot just look at from a scientific perspective—you have to look at them from scientific, philosophical, theological, and historical perspectives.” —Professor Marcelo Gleiser Question Reality! Science, Philosophy, and the Search for Meaning
Professor Andy Friedland, Introduction to Environmental Science
“The next time I teach my intro course at Dartmouth, I’ll have permanent links to segments from the online course that students will watch before class, so that in class I can lecture at a higher level and we can have a discussion at a higher level. The whole process has turned upside down my thinking on what constitutes learning, teaching, and the absorption of information. And it changed the way I presented my first ‘Introductions to Environmental Science’ class here at Dartmouth earlier today.” — Professor Andrew Friedland, Introduction to Environmental Science

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