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September 21, 2012 10:00 AM Dick Durbin Tries Online Poetry Class

By Daniel Luzer

Some technology enthusiasts have become very excited about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), free, non-credit classes that an unlimited number of people can take over the Internet.

One of those people is apparently U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois (D), the Senate Majority Whip. Durbin, who has called the existing financial model of American higher education “unsustainable,” is a severe critic of for-profit colleges. Earlier this year he introduced a bill in the senate to prevent for-profit colleges from exploiting veterans’ benefits. But he’s not opposed to education innovation. He’s apparently taking a poetry class online.

According to an article by Kerry Lester in the Daily Herald

In his free time - you might ask just how much he has these days - Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin tells us he’s taking an online contemporary poetry course. after hearing about online higher education venture Coursera, which offers free course offerings from more than a dozen of the county’s major universities, including the University of Illinois, Durbin says he decided to test out the idea.
He says he knows “nothing about poetry” yet has had fun in the first week of the course. “I said to my wife, when she asked me why I was up on the computer for two hours the other night, ‘I’m in class.”

“Modern & Contemporary American Poetry” began last week. The professor teaching the course is Al Filreis of the University of Pennsylvania. Filreis has been using using technology in his classes for years. For at least a decade Penn students have prepared for his courses using listservs, videos, and other social media Filreis creates.

The class runs until the middle of November. Durbin, needless to say, is not running for reelection this year.

Read about the course here.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer