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nanoHUB-U Course Preparation

The nanoHUB-U online course initiative was developed to enable students to study a subject in a 5-week framework roughly equivalent to a 1.0 credit class. No credit is given – quizzes and exams are simple and are intended to be aids to learning rather than rigorous tests for acquired skills. In the spirit of a research university, nanoHUB-U courses aim to bring new advances and understanding from research into the curriculum. Every effort is made to present courses in a way that is accessible to beginning graduate students with a variety of different backgrounds. What this means in practice is that the number of prerequisites should be kept to an absolute minimum. The ideal nanoHUB-U course is accessible to any students with an undergraduate degree in engineering or the physical sciences.

Each nanoHUB-U course is different, and some experimentation with different course formats and presentation technologies is encouraged (but please discuss well in advance with the nanoHUB-U staff). We have found, however, that the following format works well.

To assist you in planning and preparing a nanoHUB-U course, a monthly breakdown of the tasks necessary to prepare for a course is listed below. A team of nanoHUB-U course professionals is available to assist with these activities.

In addition, a sample nanoHUB-U course has been set up to provide examples from past nanoHUB-U courses.

Example Week

Please click on the weekly title of course content that you want to view.

Week 1 Describing quantum systems: Atoms, solids and nanostructures Posted


M1.1: Describing Quantum Systems - Schrodinger Equation (Datta)

M1.2: Describing Quantum Systems - From Differential to Matrix Equation (Datta)

M1.3: Describing Quantum Systems - Dispersion Relation (Datta)

L1.4: Tip-Surface Interactions (Non-Contact) - InterMolecular Interactions: Ion-Dipoles (Reifenberger)

L1.5: Tip-Surface Interactions (Non-Contact) - InterMolecular Interactions: Keesom Force (Reifenberger)

L1.6: Tip-Surface Interactions (Non-Contact) - InterMolecular Interactions: Dispersion Force (Reifenberger)

Lecture Notes

Errata to the World Scientific Notes can be found here (Datta)



Problem 1 tutorial

Problem 2 tutorial

Problem 3 tutorial

Problem 4 tutorial


The exam will be open from Friday 03/23/2012 12:01am EDT to 04/08/2012 11:59pm EDT. Your results and the solutions will be available after 04/08/2012 11:59pm EDT by clicking on the exam link above.

For more details, see the Course Exam Policies on the FAQ Page

nanoHUB-U Course Implementation Outline:

Time prior to start of course: Task

In brief, each week contains:

6 lectures

    Each is about 20 minutes long (~2 hours of material).
    Experience shows that lectures should never be more than 30 minutes long.
    The last week may concentrate more on reviewing materials and answering questions that have arisen rather than on presenting new material.

6 Quizzes (one following each lecture)

    Usually 2-3 multiple-choice questions.

Online forum

    Students interact with the instructor by asking questions and discussing concepts in an online forum.

A weekly homework assignment with written solutions and tutorials.

  • To date, tutorials have consisted of video taping the instructor working the homework problems, but other formats are possible
  • The use of simulation tools, which can be accessed through nanoHUB, is also encouraged for assignments. If there are special requirements beyond simply using an existing nanoHUB tool, be sure to discuss with the nanoHUB staff well in advance
  • Homework assignments may or may not be graded. Typically 4 problems are assigned each Monday and the 4 video tutorials and written solutions are posted each Wednesday.
  • If the last week focuses on course review and answering questions, there may be fewer (or even no) homework problems.

An exam to test knowledge/participation each week.

    Exams are open for two weeks, and are graded instantly, with an opportunity for a 2nd try. This is typically a 10-question multiple choice exam much like the quiz, but graded.
    Exam grades are collected and stored.
6 months Initial Preparation

A different Experience

Teaching a course for nanoHUB-U is a different experience than teaching a semester long lecture course and a majority of the material to be covered in the nanoHUB-U course should already be available and organized in first draft form ~ 6 months in advance. It is helpful if you can tape a “pilot”, 20 minute lecture well in advance to learn what adaptations might help make your teaching style more effective for the the nanoHub-U format. Powerpoint template, bullets for what needs to be in each video (discussion, etc)

4 months Marketing flyer

Marketing flyer

Biography ( < 100 words)

Title of course

Course outline (Weekly titles)

Course dates (begin – end)

Course pricing

Photo (situational)


    Flyer       Photo

    Flyer                   Situational photo

3 months Complete course information page

Complete course information page

Course objectives

Course prerequisites

Description of who should take the course

Review of standard syllabus for course specific changes

Review of standard FAQ page for course specific changes

please update to reflect your course , this is an example from a previous course, please paste in your info…

Overview video

Scientific overview of what students will learn in the course

Course logistics overview (If non-standard)

Define marketing opportunities

    Professional colleagues e-mail lists

    Corporate contacts

    Journal, magazines, etc

Lecture videos

Plan the 6 20 minute weekly lectures

Record lectures (allow 1 hour per lecture)

Record the homework tutorials (4 per week)

2 months Other course content

Other course content

Quizzes (2-3 questions per lecture, 6 per week)

Homework (4 problems per week)

Exams (one per week of content, with 10 questions)

Lecture note or Powerpoint slide handouts

Personal marketing

    send e-mails with flyers attached to contacts

1 month Review


all uploaded content reviewed by instructor or TA

Start of class Monitor Course page


Online discussion forum should be monitored daily for comments and questions.

Tech support

    Issues should be reported to nanoHUB via online support tickets – not by e-mail to instructor.

Additional Information

View the Overview Video (YouTube)
Download the Overview Video (mp4)

Coming next year: An open-access educational platform where you can create and administer your own online or on-campus course using nanoHUB and other resources. More information on this new platform will be available soon.

nanoHUB-U is powered by nanoHUB.org, the home for computational nanoscience and nanotechnology research, education, and collaboration.