Wellesley College announced this week that registration is open for its first four free online courses offered through edX, a virtual learning collaborative founded by Harvard and MIT.
Wellesley will offer one course this fall on human evolution, and three courses in spring 2014 on Alexander the Great, Shakespeare, and global sociology.
These four “massive open online classes” – also called “MOOCs” – are among the most popular classes offered at Wellesley, school officials said.
“The strength of Wellesley’s faculty and curriculum is reflected in these initial courses,” said Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly. “Wellesley looks forward to contributing to, and helping to shape the conversation about the role of online education, especially in promoting the liberal arts.”
Last December, Wellesley became the first liberal arts college to join edX, which also offers courses through Georgetown University, University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University, Boston University, and Berklee College of Music, among others.
“The challenge is to harmonize the capabilities of the new technology with the academic rigor that is at Wellesley’s core,” said Ravi Ravishanker, dean of WellesleyX. ““Connecting learners to field experts from all over the world, as well as virtual face-to-face discussions, are just some ways in which our faculty are thinking about enhancing WellesleyX courses.
"In addition, our faculty members are eager to learn and experiment with some of edX’s advanced assessment tools, which, through interactivity and instant feedback, can become even more powerful additions to the learning process.”
Professor Adam Van Arsdale will lead the human evolution course this fall, teaching the original syllabus to about 20 Wellesley on-campus students, while the online class will begin a few weeks later.
EdX will record actual classroom discussions, enabling online participants to get a glimpse at the liberal arts learning experience that takes place on campus.
This concurrent online/brick-and-mortar teaching model will also provide the opportunity for Wellesley students to interact with the anticipated thousands of online learners, and vice versa, which college officials hope will lead to rich discussions beyond the traditional boundaries of the campus classroom.
For more information on the courses and/or to register for the online class, visit edX's Wellesley page.