It is the first week in May, which means that the spring semester has just ended at Columbia University, and my annual virology course is over.
Each year I teach an introductory undergraduate virology course that is organized around basic principles, including how virus particles are built, how they replicate, how they cause disease, and how to prevent infections. Some feel that it’s best to teach virology by virus: a lecture on influenza, herpesvirus, HIV, and on and on. But this approach is all wrong: you can’t learn virology by listening to lectures on a dozen different viruses. In the end all you will have is a list of facts but you won’t understand virology.
I record every one of my 26 introductory lectures as a videocast, and these are available on the course website, or on YouTube. If you have listened to my lectures before, you might be wondering what is new. I change about 10% of each lecture every year, updating the information and adding new figures. This year I’ve also added two new lectures, on on Ebolavirus and one on viral gene therapy.
Once you have taken my introductory course, then you will be ready for an advanced course on Viruses. A course in which we go into great detail on the replication, pathogenesis, and control of individual viruses. I am working on such a course and when it’s ready I’ll share it with everyone.
I want to be Earth’s virology professor, and this is my introductory virology course for the planet.
Each year as I teach my undergraduate virology course, I record each lecture and put them online where they are freely accessible. You can find the 2013 lectures here at virology blog and on iTunes U. The complete 2012 course lectures are also available (virology blog and iTunes). And don’t forget Virologia en Español, a translation of my 2012 lectures. Apple announced Thursday that over 1 billion lectures have been downloaded from iTunes U, and I’m pleased to have contributed – my 2012 virology course has over 75,000 subscribers!
A student in my virology course approached me recently to thank me for making the lectures available online, and wondered why other professors did not so the same. To help out my teaching colleagues, I have prepared a brief video tutorial on how I record my lectures. As always I am happy to respond to questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I believe that professors should share their courses online free of charge. Such distribution is not likely to impact enrollment – indeed if the courses are great, it will encourage enrollment – and will help educate everyone, which is always a good outcome. So check out my video and start recording!