The East Coast v. West Coast rivalry between MOOC (massive open online course) providers just intensified as edX (powered by MIT and Harvard) signed up another East Coast power player in the form of the liberal arts, female-only Wellesley College.
Wellesley is the alma mater of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Diane Sawyer and other well-heeled and well-manered women in American society. The move is a bold one for the old school liberal arts college that is known as an elite, finishing school of sorts. WellesleyX will offer four courses on edX starting in the fall of 2013. All of the courses will be hosted from edX’s platform at www.edx.org
How will the rest of the Seven Sisters (all-girls schools in a loose affiliation: Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Smith College, Vassar College, and Wellesley College) respond to this bold gambit by Wellesley? Will they remain loyal to their east coast roots and continue to dance with the MOOC boys and girls at Harvard and MIT? Or will they try to one-up Wellesley by going westward and joining up with the likes of Udacity or Coursera (both of which were founded by Stanford professors, although schools and professors from around the country teach for these platforms)?
“Wellesley College is the first liberal arts college to join edX—and the first women’s college to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs),” edX said in a press release. “Wellesley College will provide a series of WellesleyX courses to the platform that are unique to the College and broaden the course offerings on edx.org.”
As the first liberal arts college to join, Wellesley has the distinct challenge of translating liberal arts and science courses – typically taught to classrooms of 20 or fewer – to the massive open online landscape, where thousands or even hundreds of thousands that will be able to enroll.
Here’s a video of Wellesley Provost and Dean of the College Andy Shennan, in which he explains why WellesleyX is a milestone for the College
“Wellesley is ready to contribute our liberal arts perspective to help shape online education, particularly as colleges work to figure out how to bring the small classroom experience to the online learning landscape,” said H. Kim Bottomly, President of Wellesley College. “We are convinced that Wellesley and its outstanding faculty have the creativity and vision to take on this challenge.”