According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the University of Massachusetts system will soon be diving into the deep end of the electronic pool, as it “plans to create a national online college to compete with the so-called mega-universities.”
But how will UMASS carve out a distinctive niche within this increasingly competitive marketplace?
The answer? In a word: SMELL.
Here is UMASS President Martin Meehan, who was recently interviewed by University Life:
“In sensory terms, online education has traditionally been a pretty sterile experience. Basically, you stare at a computer screen for however long it takes to complete a course.
“Not with our program. When online students log on to our website, they will immediately be enveloped by the fresh, delightful aroma of the Berkshires in springtime. The myriad scents of the trees and flowers native to the region will be disseminated through their device’s speaker vents. We’re talking about species like the Speckled Alder, Wild Lupine, Large-Flowered Bellwort, Washington Hawthorne, and the Hackberry. This will put students in a mood that is conducive to learning. They will excel.
“And we are developing tantalizing smells for every course: ‘Dusty Library Shelves’ for 19th-Century British Literature, ‘Chanel No. 5’ for Intermediate French, ‘Boiled Potatoes’ for Russian History, ‘Popcorn’ for Superhero Cinema, stuff like that.
“We haven’t decided what to do with Math courses; pocket protectors and hand calculators don’t have a particular odor. But we’re working on it. Theology courses also present a problem, because we don’t know what God smells like. We might just go with frankincense and myrrh; it was good enough for the Magi.”
University Life predicts that the course on Urban Sewage Treatment will probably pose the biggest challenge. But who knows? Maybe your poop just smells better in the Berkshires.