Until now, MOOCs and edX in particular have primarily focused on computer science and technology. That makes sense. But amid all the hubbub of MOOCs there was a void. The humanities were not playing a starring role in MOOCs or the Harvard and MIT-founded edX online learning initiative.
EdX announced its spring course and module offerings today and there’s a bigger focus on humanities and social sciences. This might be due to the influence of Harvard and other less-technical-focused schools now a part of edX or it may simply be a signal of things to come. Either way, it’s welcome news to people like me (Anthropology major) and others who have been asking for a more diverse course catalog. Here’s the skinny from the edX press release:
edX Spring Courses
In its second semester, edX expands its online courses to a variety of subjects ranging from the ancient Greek hero to the riddle of world poverty, all taught by experts at some of the world’s leading universities. EdX is also bringing back several courses from its popular offerings in the fall semester.
“EdX is both revolutionizing and democratizing education,” said Anant Agarwal, President of edX. “In just eight months we’ve attracted more than half a million unique users from around the world to our learning portal. Now, with these spring courses we are entering a new era – and are poised to touch millions of lives with the best courses from the best faculty at the best institutions in the world.”
Building on the success of its initial offerings, edX is broadening the courses on its innovative educational platform. In its second semester – now open for registration – edX continues with courses from some of the world’s most esteemed faculty from UC Berkeley, Harvard and MIT. Spring 2013 courses include:
- Justice from Michael Sandel, the Harvard political philosopher whose online lectures have become a global sensation, and inspired millions to think critically about the moral and civic dilemmas facing their societies.
- Introduction to Statistics from Ani Adhikari, the UC Berkeley lecturer in statistics and recipient of UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
- The Challenges of Global Poverty from Esther Duflo, the MIT economist who has led a comprehensive evaluation of the roots of poverty in developing nations.
- The Ancient Greek Hero from Gregory Nagy, the professor of ancient Greek literature at Harvard who specializes in the linguistic analysis of epic and tragedy as performed in their historical contexts.
- Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation from Umesh Vazirani, the UC Berkeley computer scientist whose work has helped change our understanding of the relationship between information and quantum physics.
- Human Health and Global Environmental Change from Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment and Aaron Bernstein, a physician who studies why climate change, biodiversity loss, and other planetary scale environmental changes matter to our health and what needs to be done to remedy them.
“I’m delighted to have my Justice course on edX,” said Michael Sandel, Ann T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, “where students everywhere will be able to engage in a global dialogue about the big moral and civic questions of our time.”
In addition to these new courses, edX is bringing back several courses from the popular fall 2012 semester: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming; Introduction to Solid State Chemistry; Introduction to Artificial Intelligence; Software as a Service I; Software as a Service II; Foundations of Computer Graphics.
This spring also features Harvard’s Copyright, taught by Harvard Law School professor William Fisher III, former law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall and expert on the hotly debated U.S. copyright system, which will explore the current law of copyright and the ongoing debates concerning how that law should be reformed.
Copyright will be offered as an experimental course, taking advantage of different combinations and uses of teaching materials, educational technologies, and the edX platform. 500 learners will be selected through an open application process that begins in late January 2013.
Copyright from William Fisher III, WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Harvard Law School, and Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, will explore the current law of copyright and the ongoing debates concerning how that law should be reformed.
These new courses would not be possible without the contributions of key edX institutions, including UC Berkeley, which is the inaugural chair of the “X University” consortium and major contributor to the platform. All of the courses will be hosted on edX’s innovative platform at www.edx.org and are open for registration as of today. EdX expects to announce a second set of spring 2013 courses in the future.