Online Course in Virology

Coursera virology 2013

Carrying on the theme on MOOC's, I recently completed an online course in virology from Columbia University by Professor Vincent Racaniello.

In the early 1980’s using recombinant DNA technology, Vincent cloned and sequenced poliovirus. Using these tools he was the first virologist to construct an infectious DNA clone of an RNA animal virus — this revolutionised virology. In recent times he has brought microbiology to non-scientists through his blogs, net-casts and the establishing of a library of podcasts from his lectures given at Columbia University.

His online course (Coursera) was well-paced with video lectures and quizzes and discussion forums running to a timetable. Having taught virology at the university level for almost 40 years, I was interested to see how the subject material was organised and presented. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the online course followed pretty much my own lectures including many identical slide presentations — I guess there are limited ways of presenting the fundamental concepts in virology.

From what I can determine about 9,121 students enrolled for the course and about 2,048 completed the final exam, which makes a completion rate of 22% — much higher rate than the 5% often quoted for MOOC’s. I believe that the students who participated in the course received an excellent background in virology. Well done Vincent and your team!

3 thoughts on “Online Course in Virology

  1. Khumoetsile M. Molefe

    I would like to know if it is possible to do degree course (virology) online with your institution. I am working as a technician at University of Botswana: Biological Sciences and based in Virology section. My problem is that, I have done National Diploma in Biomedical Technology so I don’t know much about virology.

    Hoping to hear from your office soon

    Thank you

    Khumoetsile M. Molefe

  2. anon

    I am not aware of any online degree courses in virology. Virology is taught as a subject in microbiology departments as part of a BSc degree program. The online course from Columbia University is for a certificate of completion — this course would be very useful for your understanding of virology in your current job.

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