Wellesley College, the first liberal arts college to join the online learning collaborative, edX, has announced the first four massive open online courses that the College will offer.

They are Introduction to Human Evolution (Fall 2013); Was Alexander Great? The Life, Leadership, and Legacies of History’s Greatest Warrior (Spring 2014);Introduction to Global Sociology (Fall 2014); and Shakespeare: On the Page and In Performance (Fall 2014).

Registration for all four courses is now open at https://www.edx.org.

Last December, Wellesley became the first liberal arts college to join edX, the leader in high quality online learning founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The initial WellesleyX offerings represent some of the most popular courses taught at Wellesley.

All courses will be open to anyone with an Internet connection, regardless of gender or geography.

“The strength of Wellesley’s faculty and curriculum is reflected in these initial courses,” said Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly. “Wellesley looks forward to contributing to, and helping to shape the conversation about the role of online education, especially in promoting the liberal arts.”

The first course, “Introduction to Human Evolution,” begins September 2013 and will be taught by Wellesley biological anthropologist, Adam Van Arsdale. While the course syllabus is currently in development, potential plans include virtual guided trips to important archaeological dig sites and an interactive primer on how scientists measure skeletal remains.

Professor Van Arsdale will teach the original version of the Introduction to Human Evolution course (Hominid Evolution) to about 20 Wellesley on-campus students during the fall semester while the MOOC version of the class will begin a few weeks later. This concurrent MOOC/brick-and-mortar teaching model will provide the opportunity for Wellesley students to interact with the anticipated thousands of online learners, and vice versa, which College officials hope will lead to rich discussions that defy the traditional boundaries of the campus classroom. EdX will record actual classroom discussions, enabling MOOC participants to get a rare glimpse at the liberal arts learning experience that takes place on campus.