Way cool illustration by Steve Kim c/o The Verge.
Thought you could escape Wesleyan classes simply by leaving campus for the summer? That’s no longer the case. As of September 2012, Wesleyan launched its very own MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, through Coursera— you can take these multi-week classes online, for free, from anywhere in the world, directly from the professors who make Wesleyan what it is. The first small liberal arts college to offer this opportunity, Wesleyan joined the ranks of Princeton, Stanford, and UPenn in attempting to change higher education. Is it a game changer?
Not really, says The Verge‘s Maria Bustillos. In an article published yesterday, Bustillos was pretty upfront in arguing that “online classes can be enlightening, edifying, and engaging — but they’re not college.” Some critics obviously disagree with the very idea of free online courses replacing traditional education, but at the same time, “it’s also obvious that there’s a real appetite for online learning, and that it is colossal.” So what’s a journalist to do but to try some of these classes out?
For her immersion into the world of Coursera, Bustillos decided upon “The Ancient Greeks,” taught by Wesleyan’s own Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Professor of Classical Studies and Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek. She also talked to Szegedy-Maszak about the future of online learning, and to Lauren Rubenstein from Wesleyan’s Department of Media Relations about how the school’s Coursera is set up. And, after the jump, find out what Bustillos describes as “like soaking in a huge stone bath scented with rose petals while being fed grapes and gently serenaded by a distant lute.”