H. Kim Bottomly, president of Wellesley College, 2007-2016: How edX can change us, and bring Wellesley to the world.

Got questions?

We hope you find an answer among our responses to these frequently asked questions, updated throughout the year. 

Getting Started

What is WellesleyX?

With WellesleyX, Wellesley College joins Harvard and MIT in the learning collaborative known as edX to bring high quality education to anyone with an Internet connection. Initially, we will offer four online courses on the edX platform that will give students the opportunity to explore subjects in the liberal arts and sciences.

How do I register? What information do I need?

edX has made it a simple, speedy process - registration takes less than 60 seconds and all you need is an email address. Register now!

Do I watch every lecture, or do I “drop by” for ones I’m interested in?

The beauty of WellesleyX is that you can learn at your own pace and in your own way. Many will want to benefit from the full breadth of the course. However, if you’re particularly interested in the Paleo diet and just want to watch that week’s selection, you can do that too! Remember, you still need to register.

Who will teach WellesleyX courses? What will the first courses be?
Courses will be taught by regular Wellesley faculty. The first four WellesleyX courses, offered between September 2013 and October 2014 are:

  • Anthropology 207x: Introduction to Human Evolution (Fall 2013) 
  • History 229x: Was Alexander Great? The Life, Leadership, and Legacies of History’s Greatest Warrior (Spring 2014)
  • Sociology 108x: Introduction to Global Sociology (Fall 2014)
  • English 112x: Shakespeare: On the Page and in Performance (Fall 2014)

The strength of our faculty and curriculum are reflected in these initial courses. A substantial number of faculty submitted WellesleyX course proposals over this semester to an on-campus ad hoc committee, reflecting strong interest in experimenting with open-access courses and the new technologies they employ.

Who can take WellesleyX courses?

Anyone and everyone can take the non-credit WellesleyX courses that will be taught in fall 2013 and spring 2014. That’s what’s so revolutionary about this partnership! We expect current Wellesley students to participate, and we intend to reach students who do not have the advantage of being immersed in the Wellesley learning environment here on campus. Furthermore, we see this as a wonderful opportunity to provide access to Wellesley’s educational programs beyond graduation to our own alumnae.

Will alums have the opportunity to take these courses?

Certainly. We see Wellesley edX as a wonderful way to give our alumnae the chance to continue on the path of lifelong learning with Wellesley courses. Our alumnae will be among the first to know as soon as registration is available.

Can men take WellesleyX courses? Isn’t Wellesley’s mission all about women?

WellesleyX courses will be open to all regardless of gender. Given that Wellesley’s mission is to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference, we will especially promote these courses as an opportunity for women around the world, activating our powerful network of alumnae to help spread the word.

Will Wellesley's edX classes be free of charge?

While we have not yet finalized the details around Wellesley’s online learning program, the current plan is that courses will be free of charge, which helps make top quality education accessible to all. It is our expectation that courses offered online initially will be not-for-credit.

Sharing WellesleyX

I think my daughter / friend / neighbor / pen pal would enjoy taking a WellesleyX course. What should I tell them?

Fantastic idea! Tell them WellesleyX is an opportunity to study a new (or beloved) subject at a world-class institution, at your own pace, free of charge, for a lot of fun. Send them the link to Wellesley on edX and encourage them to register.

I signed up and I’m excited! How can I talk about WellesleyX with others?

We’re excited for you too! There are many ways to talk about WellesleyX: through word-of-mouth, forwarding the information via email, sharing it on Facebook and more. If you tweet, use the hashtag #wellesleyX to share your involvement and discuss the ANTH207x Introduction to Human Evolution course with #207X.

The Big Questions

What does it mean to be the first liberal arts college entering into the online learning environment?

As one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges, we’ll explore how the highly personalized, discussion-based learning experience that has been so successful at Wellesley for nearly 150 years can be translated into an online learning environment.

Is there significance in being the only woman’s college currently in the online learning space?

We believe there is no surer way of bringing positive change in the world than promoting women’s education. We’re excited to lead the way as the first women’s college to offer open access to our courses.

For more than a century, Wellesley has educated women who have made a difference in the world. Now, the edX platform allows us to reach beyond our campus to women everywhere. Imagine women in Istanbul or Jakarta taking WellesleyX courses alongside moms in Kansas City or Anchorage. If a woman has access to the Internet, she will have access to courses from the world’s premier college for women—and with those courses, the inspiration, confidence, and community to affect change in their world.

That said, men too will be able to benefit from these courses.

Why did Wellesley decide to partner with edX? Why now?

We are eager to join world-class universities that have led the way in establishing online learning—and we are intent on adding our unique liberal arts perspective to help shape the emerging online learning environment. As the first liberal arts college to join edX, we are convinced that Wellesley and its outstanding faculty have the expertise and creativity to contribute to the future of online education. 

We also anticipate that this is a wonderful opportunity for our faculty to explore integrating new teaching and learning techniques into Wellesley's classroom experience. Part of edX’s mission is to study how students learn and how technology can transform learning both on-campus and online. With Wellesley’s focus on women, we have much to contribute to this effort.  

Furthermore, as online courses grow in popularity around the world, we believe that Wellesley has an immense amount to offer, particularly to women, in this new and evolving space. We’re committed to offering the best education possible to women—and edX provides us a way of reaching women far beyond our campus.

What are Wellesley's goals for WellesleyX?

To help shape the rapidly evolving online learning environment; to enhance the quality of the education that we offer on our campus; to develop and strengthen partnerships with other leaders in education; and to explore ways in which online learning might contribute to our campus-based model.

What are the greatest benefits you anticipate?

Wellesley will continue its tradition of innovation by participating in this rapidly evolving field—and ultimately using what we learn to develop a strategy for integrating online education into our educational model.

What’s also exciting is that this consortium will enable Wellesley to reach important new audiences—for instance, to cite one example offered by Anant Argawal, president of edX, women in Saudi Arabia who have been taking edX courses. Furthermore, Wellesley courses developed in the launch of WellesleyX will be instantly available to all women anywhere with Web access…including our entire alumnae body.

I have more questions. 

You might find this piece in the New York Times helpful. Professor Cathy Davidson of Duke University answers questions from  "Middle-Aged Seekers of MOOCs," though her answers are useful for the non-middle aged as well.