Massive open online courses (MOOCs) were not initially designed to allow participants to earn credit toward a college degree. That is about to change dramatically with news that 10 major universities are set to run a pilot program next fall offering online courses for credit.
The technology platform for the Semester Online initiative was created by the higher ed tech firm 2U, formerly know as 2tor. The consortium of schools considers its work different than MOOCs because of its rigorous curriculum and the fact that credit will be offered.
“This is a significant step forward in higher education,” said Provost Ed Macias, Washington University in St. Louis, in a CNN article.
That news followed on the footsteps of Coursera announcing that the American Council on Education (ACE) would be evaluating up to five of its classes for possible credit recommendation. Individual institutions will still make the call on whether to grant credit to students for completing MOOCs, but ACE approval would help.
“MOOCs are an intriguing, innovative new approach that holds much promise for engaging students across the country and around the world, as well as helping colleges and universities broaden their reach,” said Molly Corbett Broad, ACE president, in an article in USA Today. “But as with any new approach, there are many questions about long-term potential, and ACE is eager to help answer them.”
ACE will have teams of faculty examine the content and then make recommendations on accreditation. The council will also focus on the impact of MOOCs on education, with top administrators set to discuss their potential.