|Judy at Harvard, 2011.|
You might wonder if there's some sort of catch here. We assure you: there is not. This program has been widely publicized, universally praised and is hugely popular, and for those of you who are not yet familiar with edX, here's a short summary. A few years ago, top-notch Ivy League (and other) universities got together to revolutionize education and to allow every student on the globe with an internet connection to take classes at some of the world's best universities. These classes are called MOOCs (massive online open classes). The pilot started with just a few highly technical classes, but has since expanded. There are several platforms, including EdX (an initiative by the venerable Harvard University and MIT) and Coursera, which offers more than 200 courses, including Natural Language Processing, which sounds fascinating.
Some classes can be started whenever the student desires, while others run on a set schedule. Some require intense work and participation, while others are more flexible and less time-consuming. Have a look at the individual classes offered. Upon successful completion of the course (meaning earning a passing grade), students are issued a certificate of completion by the university that offered the class. For instance, if you took a Harvard class through edX, the certificate will say HarvardX. We don't know about you, but we've always wanted a document that has our name and Harvard's on it.
We are thinking about enrolling in at least one class this spring. Here are the edX classes that have piqued our interest:
It does sound a bit too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, it's the next big thing in education, and if we see any potential downside to this fantastic program (remember we have not yet taken any classes) for linguists, it's that most of these classes are quite heavy on science and technology (which the sci-tech translators will love). Some of these classes, such as Artificial Intelligence, have a long list of prerequisites and are truly intended for those with a strong background in math and statistics.
So there you have it: free online Ivy League classes. How's that for professional development?