It’s time for biostatistics and epidemiology class. The professor is discussing Scotsman James Lind, who, in the mid-1700s, conducted one of the first-ever clinical experiments. Lind studied the way different foods affected sailors sick with scurvy and found that only those who added citrus fruits to their regular diet recovered. It’s an interesting lecture. But there’s no one in the classroom.

Not yet, that is. That’s because the lecture is one of many currently being recorded in the state-of-the-art Leadership Studio at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) as part of a brand-new online introductory course in epidemiology and biostatistics that begins October 15, 2012. The new course, “Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research,” is one of the two inaugural courses being offered by Harvard this fall as part of edX, the online education platform launched last May by Harvard and MIT; the University of California, Berkeley, joined in July.

EdX is a nonprofit global venture aimed at advancing online learning and generating a wealth of information about how students learn and how to teach them most effectively. Seven edX courses are being offered in fall 2012: three from MIT and two each from Harvard and UC Berkeley. Topics include computer science, chemistry, electronics, and public health.