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Can you say more about the courses without borders philosophy?

Research articles and even textbooks are typically written with a specific disciplinary training (that of the author!) in mind. Our intent in this initiative is to help communicate across disciplines by developing course modules that are broadly accessible ideally, to anyone with a bachelors degree in science or engineering. We realize this is a tall order, but our experience with the open content that we have developed and disseminated through suggests that it is possible and that there is strong demand for such an approach.

Where is this all heading toward an online degree in nanotechnology?

Our view is that the impact of nanoscience and technology will come by reshaping the way we think about traditional science and engineering disciplines, by providing new tools and approaches for those disciplines, and by promoting interdisciplinary research and development. We have no plans to offer a degree in nanotechnology.

This limited term experiment is an opportunity for us to reshape the way we teach the fundamentals of science and engineering in light of the recent advances in nanoscience. A key feature is the modularity enabled by the course design and the delivery platform. The experiment will surely impact the curriculum on the Purdue campus. It may lead to new on-campus degree programs, and possibly to off-campus degree or non-degree programs, as well.

Do you really think you can offer the quality of an educational experience that occurs on the Purdue campus?

No, and that is not our intent. We cannot provide the on-campus student experience. What we can do is to share the unique instructional materials being used on the Purdue campus with others. For those highly motivated self-learners who cannot attend Purdue University, it is the next best thing. Our goal is to help students at other institutions and working engineers and scientists acquire the knowledge they need to be successful in 21st century technology, which increasingly involves nanotechnology no matter what the discipline.

Is it possible to obtain university credit for these courses?

Courses offering university credit may be offered in the future, but the registration fee will be significantly higher.

What course materials will be available? Do I need to buy a book?

This will depend on the course, but generally copies of the PowerPoint lecture slides (or brief summaries of the lectures) will be available. In some cases, a partnership with World Scientific Publishing Company will allow the instructor to provide a more extensive set of lecture notes. Additional supplementary information and homework assignments will also be provided.

What is the partnership with World Scientific Publishing Company?

Lecture notes for several of the courses being developed will be published by World Scientific Publishing Company (WSPC). WSPC has agreed to allow us to disseminate these notes free of charge. See Lessons from Nanoscience

Will the course materials be available without registering?

Some, or even all of the content may eventually be made openly available on

How will I know if I have the right prerequisites?

Prerequisites will be specified for each course. In some cases, special lectures covering the required background knowledge may be provided.

How many hours per week of effort are needed to successfully complete this course?

Students seeking a proof of completion in a live, or faculty led course need to spend approximately 8-10 hours per week viewing lectures, taking quizzes, and doing the homework. Students who only wish to take a self-paced course have a flexible time commitment and no proof of completion will be provided.

How will I interact with the professors? What resources are available to help online students?

During the five-week version of the course, students post questions in the discussion forum, and the instructor responds to selected questions. Some instructors may hold electronic office hours. Homework solutions will be posted, and some instructors will discuss them in prerecorded video lectures or tutorials.

Will the courses be offered asynchronously or on a fixed schedule?

During the five-week version of the course, students view prerecorded video lectures and take quizzes at their own convenience, but homework assignments, exams, and discussion forums will be completed on a fixed schedule. The self-paced offering of the course allows students to complete all course materials at their convenience within one year of registration. In the self-paced mode, discussion forums are not monitored by the faculty; however, students can interact with each other to review material and answer questions.

What special technical capabilities does the nanoHUB (HUBzero) platform offer?

The key feature is the ability to run simulations online, while allowing students to complete homework assignments without acquiring any special software.

Why are you charging so little?

Because it is an experiment that will allow us to develop the content, pedagogical approaches, and technologies to teach these new concepts effectively. By avoiding the complexities of actually granting Purdue University credit, we can offer these unique materials to a worldwide audience at low cost for a limited time.

My company would be interested in a course designed for our specific interests. Is this possible?

Partnerships to develop new content in a way that advances the goals of nanoHUB-U can be explored.