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Harvard’s New Free Online Course in Public Health

PH207x Intro Video – Fall 2012

Over 100,000 students have registered for the first free online courses ever offered by Harvard University. The courses start this week, and are being offered by the educational joint venture edX.

One of the courses being offered is called Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research. This public health course is focused on the need for principled investigations to monitor and improve public health, and the need for these investigations to incorporate the most advanced quantitative methods. Also, doing this involves having the skill to discover patterns and pull out knowledge from large amounts of health data from samples from many individuals, and then to infer general population characteristics.

This edX course addresses this public health need by studying the key principles of epidemiology and biostatistics that are used for public health and clinical research. Some of the areas that will be studied include:

  • Outcomes measurement
  • Measures of associations
  • Study design
  • Bias and confounding
  • Probability and diagnostic tests
  • Confidence intervals
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Power and sample size determinations
  • Life tables
  • Regression methds
  • Sample survey techniques

Students in this course will analyze sample data to gain knowledge of needed computer software. By the end of this free course, you will have a good understanding of these methods and a strong foundation for further public health study.

The course is being taught by E. Francis Cook, who is Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and at the Harvard Medical School. Also teaching the course is Marcello Pagano, Professor of Statistical Computing at the Harvard School of Public Health.

According to Harvard University Provost Alan Garber, the free courses are part of a larger effort to educate people around the world, and also offering these free courses will help Havard to gain a better understanding of how people learn.

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