Dartmouth professor wins award for online program

Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth Professor Petra Bonfert-Taylor, right, and her French counterpart, Rémi Sharrock from Institut Mines-Télécom, won the 2019 annual edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Learning and Teaching.

HANOVER — Dartmouth professor Petra Bonfert-Taylor is being honored for her work in designing an online education program through the edX Consortium.

“I want to cross boundaries and make a quality education available to everyone,” said Bonfert-Taylor, a Thayer Engineering School at Dartmouth professor.

Bonfert-Taylor has been working on the project for a couple of years along with French counterpart Rémi Sharrock from Institut Mines-Télécom (IMT). The two created a professional certificate program, teaching people C Programming with Linux.

The pair was named as the winners of the 2019 annual edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Learning and Teaching during an event held last week.

The program offers people skills to succeed in the global business market by taking a class taught through world-class institutions while online. Bonfert-Taylor sees this as the future of professional education.

“I strongly believe that education is such an important commodity, I believe in spreading access to high quality education,” she said.

The website edX offers users education opportunities in a variety of subjects, from professional level computer skills, to liberal arts, and even technical programs like beer making. The website offers classes taught by Ivy League professors like Bonfert-Taylor.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there,” she said.

Bonfert-Taylor and Sharrock’s professional certificate was taken by more than 165,000 users. The programs through the edX Consortium provide new, interactive learning tools that enable learners to begin coding in minutes. Dartmouth and Sharrock’s IMT were the first members of the edX Consortium to offer a joint edX.org Professional Certificate.

While Bonfert-Tayor thinks more and more people will seek educational advancement through online opportunities like the edX platform, these programs will never replace the experience that can be attained at an institution like Dartmouth, she said.

“The on-campus experience that we’re providing for our undergrad students is unparalleled,” she said. “We’re teaching them to become adults, and you cannot do that online.”

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