MOOCs Move One Step Closer to Providing College Credits

By Catherine Groux
Posted January 24, 2013 11:00 AM

Students may soon receive credit for completing MOOCs.
Students may soon receive credit for completing MOOCs.

Officials from Georgia State University recently announced that they plan to adopt a new policy that could allow students to earn credits for completing massive open online courses (MOOCs), The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Currently, students can enroll in MOOCs through a variety of colleges and organizations across the country, gaining free knowledge in a variety of topics but not earning academic credits for their studies. However, this could soon change as schools like Georgia State update their policies.

In the future, individuals who take MOOCs through Georgia State's online platform will have the option of working with the university's Office of Undergraduate Admissions to determine whether they have mastered the material enough to earn course credits, which will be offered at no additional cost.

This new policy makes Georgia State one of the first schools in the nation to experiment with giving students credits for completing MOOCs. Recently, California's San Jose State University made a similar decision when it announced that it has formed a partnership with Udacity, an online course creator, to launch a pilot program that will give students credits for completing remedial and introductory courses over the internet.

The pilot program aims to better prepare students for college at a fraction of the cost, and will begin by allowing students to use online lectures, interactive quizzes and support from mentors to sharpen their algebra and statistics skills, The New York Times reports.

While individual schools strive to find efficient ways to offer credit for MOOCs, the American Council on Education (ACE) announced in November that it would do the same. Working with organizations like Coursera and institutional leaders, ACE will use funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to analyze the potential of MOOCs in academia.

"MOOCs are an exciting innovation. They hold great promise, but are not without challenges - and we are still discovering their full potential," said Dan Greenstein, director of postsecondary success for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We believe having diverse options for faculty and students that meet a wide array of learning needs and styles can enhance student engagement, improve educational outcomes and increase college completion rates. We are eager to learn from and share the data that will be generated from these investments in MOOCs."

Despite the significant steps academic leaders have made in providing credits for the completion of MOOCs, many college faculty remain skeptical of the free courses' place in higher education. According to a recent survey by the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, just 2.6% of postsecondary institutions currently offer MOOCs, while only 9.4% said they are in the planning stages of launching these courses.

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