Coursera, one the leading providers of free online courses has announced that this week they have recieved approval to provide actual college credit for students who are taking some of their online courses. This marks the first time that a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) has won approval for credit equivalency, which means that those classes can count towards a college degree. Approval came from the American Council on Education (ACE), and of now it applies to five courses:
- Pre-calculus from the University of California, Irvine.
- Introduction to Genetics and Evolution from Duke University.
- Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach from Duke University.
- Calculus: Single Variable from the University of Pennsylvania.
- Algebra from the University of California, Irvine (but only as a vocational credit).
To be eligible for the credit, Coursera students must sign up for the course’s Signature Track, which requires is an extra validation step that attaches their user information to their real identity. Additionally Signature Track students take an online proctored exam prior to completion. The Signature Track costs $60 to $90 and the proctored exam costs $30 to $99, bringing the cost of these credited courses to just under $200.
So far the partnering universities have been very forthcoming about promoting this announcement, and each of the schools have made announcements online and in the local press, echoing sentiments similar to this from Duke Provost Peter Lange:
“We are excited by this opportunity to experiment with new ways of using our MOOC courses to extend our educational reach and provide credit for students who would not otherwise have access to our faculty.”
And, giving insight into the larger plan of the accredited course offerings, Andrew Ng, Co-Founder of Coursea had this to say:
“Ever since we launched Coursera, we’ve known that university degrees are important. We wanted a more systematic way for students to earn academic credit… This is just a step in that direction.”
ACE approval means that Coursera classes could be eligible for credit at approximately 2,000 U.S. colleges and universities. There are still many hurdles remaining, and schools are by no means required to accept the credits, but the possibility now exists, whereas before it could not even be attempted. This approval is a very significant milestone and it signifies that schools are in fact looking to embrase new means of learning, and that MMOCs are becoming more widely accepted and recognized.
Read More about the announcement here: