Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Human Evolution: Diving Into Online Learning

My 200th post!

Today is the first day of my edX course, ANTH_207 Human Evolution, offered for free by Wellesley College and taught by Adam Van Arsdale. I have been going over the course materials and have added my voice to the growing discussion. There are people from Vietnam, Brazil, Australia, Canada, the US of A...It is shaping up to be a fascinating course, with videos, scientific papers, assignments. I am so stoked!

Here is my introduction. There is still time to sign up if you are interested, or go for another of their many offerings.

A Hearty Hello from Vancouver, Canada (+ Answers to the Questions re Evolution)

CaseyWolfabout 2 hours ago

I am delighted to be among you all as we embark on this journey of discovery. I thought I'd read all of your introductions first...this proved impossible given my time constraints. Nevertheless, I am happy to have read many and to have some sense of my fellow travellers.
I have had a lifelong interest in "deep time"--paleontology, evolution, and so on--and in science generally, though I have been diverted into the arts over much of my life. I was forced to leave school for health reasons years ago and am excited to have an opportunity to look into the mechanics of evolution in more detail than a one hour radio program might offer. (I did take a 4th year course in Evolution at UBC years ago, which was truly wonderful, but I am definitely due for a refresher.)
The past months I have been caring for a dying friend and I am already reveling in the opportunity to take my thoughts far away from those worries and joys and put them onto something so different and so long of interest to me.
As to the questions: Why are you taking this class? Stimulation, pleasure, filling in the holes in my understanding of the evolution of our branch of the tree. A break from stress. What questions do you most want answered about human evolution? Why do we have round hairy nostrils when lemurs have smooth comma shaped ones? Why do we have so much hair on our heads, and so little elsewhere? (I can't think of other animals with hair that grows almost without check.) Are we more governed by the impulse to co-operate or the impulse to distrust and have power over outsiders, and how can these traits be examined in our evolutionary past? When and how did you first learn something about the human fossil record? Age five when my mother introduced me to all her favourite subjects.
Much wonder and delight to us all! Thanks to Wellesley for the offering.
(Gadzooks! There are 18, 000 people in my class!)

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