Libraries as cyber-classrooms: HarvardX expands access to library collections

1 min read

“It gives one chills to see [Dickinson’s] original manuscripts—to be able to picture where her eccentric and significant dashes were originally placed,” said Elisa New, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature. New’s HarvardX fall course, “Poetry in America,” will include several lectures filmed in Harvard libraries and feature items from libraries’ collections.

HarvardX—launched in parallel with EdX, the not-for-profit online learning enterprise founded by Harvard and MIT—allows faculty members like New to reimagine their teaching using new technologies to reach a global audience of learners. While MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are frequently associated with video lectures and discussion forums, New is incorporating what she believes is one of Harvard’s most significant assets—its libraries. “We have extraordinary resources in the Harvard libraries,” she said.

New will tape segments in the libraries that feature distinguished individuals—such as a reading and discussion with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Harvard Law School Library.