Online Physics Courses Make a 'Big Bang'
Date: 2017-03-06 Hour: 10:28
An evolution is taking place at Bar-Ilan University's Department of Physics. A new program offering three online courses in Mechanics, Waves, and Mathematical Methods for Physicists has become such a hit that five additional courses will be introduced when classes resume next semester (March 19). In total, eight courses and two preparatory courses, which are required for acceptance into the department, will be up-and-running later this month.
"Our Mechanics course has been the most popular of all," says Dr. Yossi Ben-Zion, Deputy Chairman of the Department, who initiated the online courses with Department Chairman Prof. Michael Rosenbluh. "Nearly 1,000 viewers have watched the course since its debut two months ago, and hundreds have viewed each of the others." The courses have even caught the eye of representatives from other educational institutions who are visiting Bar-Ilan to learn more about the initiative.
In order to film the online classes, a fine quality camera is affixed to a permanent location in the classroom, and the lecturer is fitted with a microphone. The session is then edited and posted on You Tube. A sample Mechanics course session may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-0givyu0TtPTf2cIXZtSjw/playlists. All of the courses are open to students and the general public.
The online courses have played a particularly meaningful role in the lives of students who are forced to miss class for a variety of reasons, including IDF reserve duty, maternity leave or illness. The students, says Dr. Ben-Zion, have expressed great satisfaction with, and enthusiasm for, the initiative.
Dr. Ben-Zion says the Department plans to expand the program in a number of ways. First, all BA courses, in addition to being taught in the classroom by the Department's finest lecturers, are expected to be available online within three years. In addition, the Department hopes to launch online courses in English next year. Eventually, the courses may also be broadcast live.
Dr. Ben-Zion was recently ranked among the 60 Most Favorite Professors in Israel in a comprehensive study of more than 1,800 students conducted by the National Union of Israeli Students. He was commended for his interesting lecturers, forging strong bonds between his students, his open-door policy, and for teaching his students even when they were no longer enrolled in his classes.