Distance Learning at Harvard University

Have you ever heard of Harvard? Have you ever thought about taking classes there, but thought it was out of your reach? Thanks to their extension program and their growing selection of distance learning classes, that is now a possibility for anyone who can read this. Harvard has opened its doors to the general public – well, at least its opened its electronic doors.

The prestigious Harvard University campus, photo by Patricia Drury

Harvard University is one of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the United States, and the world over. It opened its doors in 1636, making it the oldest college in the country, and was also the first corporation in US history. Harvard is a school of wealth, history, and prestige, and holding a degree from it has been known to open doors for its graduates.

And now, Harvard also offers distance learning classes — over two hundred of them, with more being added every semester. The classes range over half a dozen disciplines, and offer an incredibly wide range of depth and diversity.  And as is customary for Harvard, the classes themselves are top of the line.

Harvard University offers two different kinds of distance ed classes. The first, and more numerous, is Video Classes. These classes are lectures recorded on campus and available for students to watch streaming at their leisure. The lectures are tied into weekly assignments, papers, tests, and research. Sometimes, live lectures or events are broadcast.

The second kind of class is a Live Web Conference Class. This is very much a structured group discussion class, involving a lecturer interacting with the students. The only difference is that the students all telecommute to the class, and everyone is linked together in a web conference. Unlike the video classes, the live web conference classes are not the kind the student can watch when they have time. The only real difference between the web conference and going to class is that you don’t have to worry about parking, and shoes are optional.

Students who take distance learning classes through Harvard are treated the same as any other matriculating student. College credit is earned, and grades are given, just like attending classes on campus, and the credit status for each course is clearly defined in the course descriptions. There is no difference on a college transcript for an on-line class. Chances are that any other school in the country will accept distance education credits from Harvard, but it is always smart to check with a specific school to confirm the credit eligibility.

Harvard has always been an exclusive establishment, but they have made their extension and distance learning classes available to anyone – no application needed. If you can be one of the first to sign up, and you can pay for the course, you can take a Harvard University course. The next sign-up (for courses in the Spring semester) starts at 6 a.m. on December 3rd, 2012.

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