Last Tuesday (February 18) Brian Greene stopped by The Colbert Report. The theoretical physicist and best known string theorist was promoting the forthcoming launch of World Science U. This is an online education venture where students can take science classes – for free. The doors are almost open, and the promotional video suggests that Greene’s enthusiasm will be part of the experience – certainly when he’s teaching.
Greene will teach two courses, both on special relativity. One course is geared toward those who aren’t mathematically inclined, while the other will presume some familiarity with math. While the promotional video suggests the courses are strictly online lectures, this Columbia Spectator article indicates the courses will include exercises and assessments that are part of the massive open online course model called a MOOC.
The first courses will start on March 6, and Greene hopes to attract students from a variety of backgrounds. Like many other online educational offerings, Greene expects students could be looking to augment their other courses, to learn about the subject, or to fill in a course need for which they may not have the needed resources where they are.
World Science U is an outgrowth, at least in part, of the World Science Festival, which Greene co-founded. Hopefully the Festival and the U can build each other up. A possible first step would be to funnel more Festival participants into the U. Regardless of what first step is eventually taken, the sooner the U stops resembling Brian Greene’s personal lecture channel, the better chance it has of thriving in its own right.