Massive open online courses have begun to be integrated into traditional colleges — by making them eligible for transfer credits, and by putting them to use in introductory and remedial courses.
The American Council on Education, and Coursera announced a pilot project to determine whether some free online courses are similar enough to traditional college courses that should be eligible for the credit.
The council’s credit evaluation process will start early next year. They will use faculty teams to assess how much students who successfully complete Coursera MOOCs have learned. Students who want to take the free classes for credit would need to pay a fee to take an identity-verified, proctored exam.
When the faculty team deems the course worthy of academic credit, students who do well,can pay for a transcript to submit to the college of their choice.
Colleges do not need to accept those credits. It is a fact that similar transcripts are accepted by 2,000 United States colleges and universities for training courses offered by the military or by employers.
Coursera has 33 university partners and about two million students, who can earn certificates of completion, but not academic credit, for their work.
“I feel strongly that degrees are really valuable to people, and having MOOCs allow for credit down the line will increase the number of students with the confidence and wherewithal to complete degrees,” says Professor Koller. “If you’re a random student from another country, what are your chances of being admitted to a university here? But if you can show you’re a motivated student who’s completing five courses and done well on the proctored exam, I think a university would pay attention.”
The project is being followed closely by higher-education experts, who expect MOOCs to enable access to higher education and bring down the costs.
William G. Bowen, the former President of Princeton University and the Mellon Foundation, and Senior Adviser to Ithaka, a non-profit group devoted to digital technologies in higher education explains that with the additional benefits of ACE credit recommendation for Coursera courses, students will have an excellent opportunity to obtain recognized credentials.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced 13 grants, totalling more than $3 million, for MOOCs’ research. The grants are going to be used in the support of the development of MOOCs in introductory courses, like developmental math and writing. The outcome will be to see how MOOCs might be integrated into community colleges to strengthen the completion and to develop a pathway for transfer credit.
Even though there is some overlap between the Coursera and the Gates grants, only four of the nine schools that received grants are putting their MOOCs on Coursera, while the others use different platforms.
The largest grants will go to three groups:
1. American council,
2. Ithaka and
3. Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities
They will explore the credit issue, consider a possible consortium for collaborating on digital courseware, and research the University of Maryland’s experience with MOOCs.
There is potential in these activities and maximum efforts need to be made in order to optimize the potential of the MOOCs and the traditional learning.
You can learn more at MOOCS