Free Wellesley College Classes Coming Soon to a Computer Near You
Wellesley College makes the first liberal arts school to join the MIT/Harvard online venture, edX. MassBay Community College joined last month.
Wellesley is getting plugged in. Free online education is already on your computer, but soon course listings will include liberal arts education from Wellesley College.
Wellesley College announced today that they are adding courses to edX, an online resource offering free online classes from Harvard, MIT and Berkeley. The WellesleyX program will be the first liberal arts courses on the site.
EdX uses what are called massive online open courses (MOOCS), in which anyone with an internet connection can participate in a course without applying or or attending the courses in person. Students can earn certificates of completion from the university, which are currently free--the edX FAQ site says a modest fee may be implemented in future.
“I am pleased that Wellesley will bring a much-needed liberal arts perspective to the rapidly developing online learning environment,” Wellesley College President Kim Bottomly said in a statement to the Wellesley Community.
The online education provider went live earlier this year, and WellesleyX will start offering courses in the coming school year, as will the University of Texas. Last month, edX also announced it was partnering with MassBay Community College, as well as Bunker Hill, to offer some computer science classes.
Anant Agarwal, president of edX and MIT professor believes that the liberal arts courses will provide insights into how small-class culture can fit in the larger world of online courses.
"We want to create the aura of a small-group setting, so that students can discuss among themselves,” he told the Globe. “I would like to be a fly on the wall for those discussions.”
[Update: 12:44 p.m.] The Wellesley College Patch Blog just added a post about joining edX. In it, Provost and Dean of the College Andrew Shennan likened edX's goals to Wellesley’s founding mission “to educate women who otherwise would not have had opportunities to receive higher education.”