Receiving a liberal arts education is often likened to being raised by a village, where access to different voices and perspectives are readily available. Well, now that village is global.
The New York Times has announced a new online initiative called the Knowledge Network, which links Times content with faculty course material for both credit-bearing and continuing education courses. The goal of this initiative, among others, is to provide educators with the opportunity to "select Times articles, archival content, graphics and multimedia content, including videos and Webcasts, gathered around specific subjects, and make them available to students online, along with other course materials."
The Times believes students will "benefit from access to thematic content" published by the newspaper. And there's reason to believe others may think the same. Mount Holyoke College, Northern Kentucky, Stanford and Towson Universities, as well as the Society for College and University Planning, are among those participating in this initiative.
Course topics range from art and film to project management. Students are often asked to keep blogs detailing their thoughts and revelations. Courses will make use of Times content via enrollment-based subscription plans which will provide students access to special content, including summaries of articles, interactive maps, video, audio, graphs.
Professors at institutions that subscribe can also make customized course pages, and have the ability to add their own content alongside these content packages.
In addition, subscribers will be given full access to services offered by Epsilen, a Web-based system that offers electronic portfolios, blogging, and interactive teaching tools to allow for course discussions, professional social networking, and other services.
It's no coincidence that The Times is an investor "in another company that has a long-term exclusive license to the Epsilen services." And anyone having an .edu email address will benefit, as some of the basic portfolio creating services will be available for free to those with such domains.
This initiative is sure to breathe new life into the web publishing world. As traditional print media outlets search to find new sources of revenue to offset access to free content, collaborate efforts with higher education seems like a worthwhile endeavor. After all, the product is already there and a captive audience eagerly awaits an education.
The New York Times Knowledge Network courses are slated to start this fall. Registration opens on September 15.