The Boston GlobeBy Marcella Bombardieri. The stress is on production values, props, and, yes, scholarship.

The discussion between two Harvard historians one recent morning was a little bit Ivory Tower, a little bit Hollywood.  Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Andrew Gordon, both preparing to teach a new breed of free online classes, met in the iconic Widener Library — bequeathed to Harvard University by the family of a Titanic victim — to discuss a topic in social history: the influence of the sewing machine on Japan’s modernization. They were surrounded not by leather-bound volumes but by a multimillion-dollar production studio and no fewer than five bustling staff members adjusting cameras and microphones and ensuring the scholars made their points clearly. More...