Faculty Open the Classroom with C-PIES and HHMI Fellowship

March 6, 2024

Whether you’re fresh out of high school or going back to school later in life, your first college-level course can be intimidating. And while Georgia Tech offers numerous resources — drop-in tutoring, learning assistants, peer-led study groups — that provide extra support, they aren’t always accessible to everyone.

The Open Course Project aims to address that gap with self-guided, interactive support for math and statistics courses at Georgia Tech — and beyond.

“The Open Course Project was started in order to be an extra resource for students,” says Stephanie Reikes, a lecturer in the School of Mathematics and one of the project’s leaders. “Many students are entering college with gaps in their knowledge due to online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. I wanted to create a course for students to self-enroll and be able to work at their own pace with the material.”

Support from Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The project was born out of the Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellowship, established in May 2023 by the College’s Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences (C-PIES). The annual fellowship, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, funds one project proposed by Georgia Tech faculty that promotes inclusive teaching.

Reikes was named a 2023-2024 C-PIES Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellow alongside colleagues Greg Mayer, academic professional in the School of Mathematics; and Bekki George, former academic professional in the School of Psychology for the trio's collaborative proposal for the Open Course Project. Hi Shin Shim, a graduate student in Psychology, has since joined the team to develop the statistics course.  

“The original idea was to promote inclusive teaching in a unique way,” says Lea Marzo, program director for C-PIES. “We chose this group because their project really homes in on helping students from disadvantaged communities that maybe don’t have basic foundations in these courses.”

With its self-paced material available completely online, Marzo says the courses allow students of any background — and with any schedule — to “get those foundations.”

Opening up the classroom

Development of the Open Course Project began in the summer of 2023, with the first courses launching in the fall. During that time, Reikes, Mayer, and Shim established databases with recorded videos, supplemental notes, and practice problems for college algebra, multivariable calculus, and statistics

“Students come to Georgia Tech and find that they need a refresher or that they’re struggling with these courses but can’t necessarily go to tutoring — maybe they’re remote, maybe they work full time, or maybe they’re just not comfortable with in-person tutoring,” Marzo explains. “This gives students another avenue to access this information.”

The online courses are completely self-guided, allowing students to build foundations in these areas from anywhere at their own pace. Enrollment in these courses also provides automatically graded assessments with hundreds of exercises that offer instant feedback to students.

More than 500 Georgia Tech students have enrolled in the courses since the project's launch. To make the materials even more accessible, the team also opened the courses to the general public at no cost.

Publicly available courses currently include college algebra and multivariable calculus, with a statistics course projected to come online sometime this summer.

Because of this, Marzo points out, “any school can use it — and you're essentially getting top level education for free.”


For More Information Contact

Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II
College of Sciences

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences