Online Smithsonian Courses

The Smithsonian name carries quite a bit of weight in the world of higher education. And soon, a funnel for that pool of knowledge will be available online — for a price.

baby in front of laptopIn May the Smithsonian Institution announced a 10-year joint venture with The Great Courses, a company that specializes in lifelong learning through digital media, according to a press release.

“The Great Courses has a proven track record of creating engaging, immersive learning experiences,” says Carol LeBlanc, senior vice president for consumer and education products at Smithsonian Enterprises. “We are excited to help develop accessible and high-quality courses, based on the Smithsonian museums and collections, for a broad array of lifelong learners over the next decade.”

Topics of the first of 12 courses that will be available starting this fall include the Industrial Revolution, a visual tour of the universe, and explorations of key sites in Rome, Venice and Tuscany.

The courses are being offered for $89.95 for each 24-lecture series.

‘No homework, no exams’

This coursework is distinct from the growing movement of MOOCs (massive open online courses) because there’s “no homework, no exams” and the courses can be taken at any time of day, Edward Leon of The Great Courses told The Associated Press.

Of course, the cost also sets the Smithsonian courses apart. The fact that MOOCS are typically free is part of what makes them so appealing and marketable to those seeking education outside the traditional environment.