A virology course for all

1 February 2013

Virology class 2013The spring semester has begun at Columbia University, which means that it is time to teach my virology course.

The fourth annual installment of my virology course, Biology W3310, has begun. This course, which I taught for the first time in 2009, is intended for advanced undergraduates and convenes at the Morningside Campus. Until I started this course, no instruction in virology had been offered at the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University since the late 1980s. This is a serious omission for a first-class University. Sending graduates into the world without even a fundamental understanding of viruses and viral disease is inexcusable.

Course enrollment has steadily increased: 45 students in the 2009, 66 students in 2010, 87 students in 2012 and an amazing 195 students this year. I am gratified that so many students want to learn about the world of viruses. This year our class was moved into a wonderful lecture hall in the brand-new Northwest Corner building.

Readers of virology blog can watch every lecture in the course. You will find a videocast of each lecture at the course website, at my YouTube channel, and at iTunes University. The complete 2012 version of this course is available online, at iTunes University, and YouTube.

This year we will also be offering my virology course at Coursera. Details will be forthcoming.

To those who would like to know if the 2013 version of my course differs from the 2012 version, I reply: do viruses change? Some parts will be the same, others will be different. The goal of my virology course is to provide an understanding of how viruses are built, how they replicate and evolve, how they cause disease, and how to prevent infection. After taking the course, some of the students might want to become virologists. The course will also provide the knowledge required to make informed decisions about health issues such as immunization against viral infections. It should also be possible to spot badly constructed headlines about virology stories.

I am excited about teaching virology to 195 Columbia University students this year. But the internet makes it possible to spread the word even further. So far nearly 75,000 students registered for the iTunes University version of my 2012 virology course! As a professor used to teaching relatively small numbers of students in a classroom, this reach is truly amazing.

  • http://exercisesinauxology.blogspot.com/ Alexandra Jacunski

    Fancy new room!!

  • http://www.virology.ws profvrr

    Yes, we were upgraded this year! But less room for me to walk around in front, there is a huge table there.

  • http://twitter.com/Khoobaan Khoobaan

    I’m from Pakistan. You Tube has been blocked here ever since last September. I would have loved it very much if I could watch all your courses. As you said, “Sending graduates into the world without even a fundamental understanding of viruses and viral disease is inexcusable.” This is the dillema of my life as well. I want to have a basic and in depth understanding of virology as I don’t have a microbiology background. Perhaps, our governtment would reconsider their decision and unblock soon.

  • http://www.virology.ws profvrr

    You can also find all the course videos at virology.ws/course. Hopefully you can access these from Pakistan.

  • tf

    I really do want to thank you for going the extra mile with your lectures. During my undergraduate days i regularly used to watch these kinds of lectures, not because my university gave poor ones but because they were never recorded. Keep it up.