The course I chose for my open source course Cultural Beliefs Based on The Heroic or the Anti-Heroic. This is a 15-week Course so obviously I did not have a chance of completing it as of this writing. The course is offered by Harvard and it explores both heroic and anti-heroic nature of the Greek gods as written in the HOMERIC ILIAD and the Odyssey.
The design of the course is self-paced, with lessons, chapter notes, handouts, videos, and videos lectures the student can watch at their own pace. It is free to the public, but if a student wants to participate in the exchange, they must register for the class.
The presentation of the material is all online. The lectures are taken from those conducted in other Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences course Literature and Arts C-14, which was offered as an online course at the Extension School, and there are some that are recorded specifically for this class. It is different from the face-to-face learning in that the student has no ability to contact the professor other than by email.
The course offered a rich learning experience because there were many accompanying videos and photos along with the lectures that drew from the text. It was also interesting to be included in some of the lectures that take place within the Harvard setting.
The educational theories that align with this course are most assuredly constructivist as students are shown how to apply their current knowledge to that of the new research that has gone into the study of these ancient texts. The student is also left to discover their own personal feelings as they relate to this new information.
I would say the challenges with this course, just as those found in the K-12 setting is that there is really no direct dialogue with the teacher outside of the times he or she sets aside each week to meet with the class. Students can email their questions or concerns, but there is not the immediate connection to the text or the lesson that students get from a face-to-face contact. When happens, the chance for text-to-self meaning can be lost.