The big new thing in the academic world is the MOOC: massive open online course. Several firms have begun offering MOOCs on a range of topics, and elite universities (and some nonelite) are scrambling to figure out whether, and how, to embrace online learning in a serious way.
A lot of these courses have been in the sciences or engineering, but that may start to change. One harbinger is a new course offered out of Harvard Law School by Terry Fisher, via edX. As this article from Education Week explains,
HLS1x Copyright (affectionately known as CopyrightX) will not be a MOOC. edX is an institution charged with using networked learning experiences to improve learning opportunities on campus and online, and not everything it does has to be full open enrollment. As the announcement of CopyrightX explains:
Enrollment for the course is limited because we believe that high-quality legal education depends, at least in part, upon supervised small-group discussions of difficult issues. Fidelity to that principle requires confining the course to the number of participants that can be supervised effectively by our 21 teaching fellows.
So while not everyone can play this year, the several hundred folks who do get into the course will have an opportunity to have a learning experience very similar to the one offered to students at HLS: lectures and carefully curated readings from a leading expert and discussions facilitated by senior HLS students. You’ll even have to sit for a three hour exam, just like everyone else at HLS, to get your certificate.
As someone who took both IP and Property from Terry Fisher, I can say that he is a terrific teacher. Anyone who can take this course should take it.