Harvard has a certain reputation…Harvard has a certain reputation, as do all Ivy League colleges, of being a bit, well…elitist, snobby, a final bastion of the Brahmin class in Boston. But lately, the grand of old dame of blue blood academia has been pushing a new series of innovative and open programs that may surprise you.
“Anyone can take a class here,” said Henry Leitner, associate dean at the Harvard Extension School program, during an information session last Wednesday. “A mother returning to school, adults pursuing a second degree, a physician who wants to study creative writing. People of all academic backgrounds sign up for courses here.”
A glance around the Memorial Hall served to illustrate his point.
“It’s like being inside of a kaleidoscope.” “It’s like being inside of a kaleidoscope,” commented one young man. He was talking about the stained glass windows, but he could have been referring to the audience. The historic Hall, which has hosted Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Malcolm X, was filled by people from every ethnic background. There were attendees well into their seventies and eighties, as well as a few teenagers.
Many of Harvard’s extension courses are offered at approximately one thousand dollars each. While a thousand dollars isn’t a drop in the bucket to most students, it is about the same rate or less than many state schools.
Harvard and M.I.T. have also begun a new initiative…Harvard and M.I.T. have also begun a new initiative called edX, investing thousands of dollars into developing MOOC classes. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are free and available to anyone with an internet connection who wishes to enroll. “Circuits and Electronics,” the first MOOC developed by the two schools, debuted this March with over 155,000 students from across the globe.
Additional MOOC courses being offered range in subject matter from Greek myth to neuroscience and the poetry of early New England. While most massive online courses are not for credit, they are still taught by skilled Harvard (and M.I.T.) instructors and offer a potential way of learning new skills without paying out the nose.
If you’re interested in enrolling in a MOOC, visit the project page at edX.org.