Breakthrough: credits for MOOCs

Nieuws | de redactie
11 februari 2013 | Finally the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are getting mature: after positive evaluation from the American Council on Education, San Jose State University is the first to offer credits for online courses.

Less funding for higher education, higher tuition fees, resulting in a student loan bubble. With the financial problems of many high school graduates in mind, San Jose State University entered the business of open online courses and joined the Silicon Valley start-up Udacity.

Now that the American Council on Education (ACE) has assessed the quality of four MOOCs and recommended colleges to award them credits, San Jose State is the first to allow their students to fully integrate MOOCs in their curricula.

Maths for the millions

San Jose State University starts with offering ‘Developmental Math’, ‘College Algebra’ and ‘Elementary Statistics’ as their first three credit-awarded MOOCs. The fee for each of the courses is $150, much lower than the cost of San Jose’s on campus education.

These courses are preparatory and cover subjects that many students need to be successful in university-level courses, especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

As the dropout rates of MOOCs are usually high, San Jose State introduced mentors to encourage the online students to complete the course.

Off the beaten track

The American Council on Education initiated a review process, dubbed ACE CREDIT, to carefully evaluate courses and exams and make credit recommendations, although individual colleges and universities decide on actual awarding of credits.

ACE CREDIT has connected workplace learning and higher education since 1974 by helping adults gain credit for courses and exams taken outside traditional degree programs. Clients include Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks and McDonald’s, education providers like Skillsoft and government agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration.

Multiple paths of access

The American Council on Education is positioning itself as the U.S. organization capable of assessing the possibly disruptive potential of the MOOCs innovative approach to higher education.

Cathy Sandeen, vice president of ACE’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation said on the ACE website: “MOOCs have the potential to support access and opportunity and provide multiple paths of entry to higher education, and this effort with Udacity can play a key role in advancing our understanding of the best path to take in the attempt to fulfill that potential.”

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