Last fall, I had the opportunity to take my first online class—with the assignment to write about the experience for the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly. In a word, it was a challenge. Not only technically—trying to master the art of IMing intellectually rigorous comments in a "classroom" of 20 or so students who were simultaneously IMing—but also intellectually. (Let's just say it's been a long time since I've had to read long, dry academic articles and discuss them with women who are better read than I am.) As was always the case at MHC, I was impressed by the level of discourse but also by the real-world value of taking such a class. (It was about the perils and benefits of globalization.)
And what of the perils and benefits of online learning? Well, let's start with the benefits: you never have to leave the house and can sip a glass of wine as you fire off your thoughts. (This feels mildly subversive; somehow, I bet I wasn't the only one to do it.) The downside is that (at least in this instance) you can't see your professor or any students in real time—which somehow makes it difficult to focus on one thread of the discussion.
In any event, here's my report on the class and on MHC's unique partnership with the New York Times' Knowledge Network to produce even more online classes for both MHC alumns and the wider public.