November 13, 2012 / Jeffrey R. Young
The American Council on Education has agreed to review a handful of free online courses offered by elite universities and may recommend that other colleges grant credit for them.
The move could lead to a world in which many students graduate from traditional colleges faster by taking self-guided courses on the side, taught free by professors from Stanford University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and other well-known colleges.
In what leaders describe as a pilot project, the group will consider five to 10 massive open online courses, or MOOC's, offered through Coursera for possible inclusion in the council's College Credit Recommendation Service. That service has been around since the 1970s and focuses on certifying training courses, offered outside of traditional colleges, for which students might want college credit. [snip]
Last year, a provider of low-cost online courses called StraighterLine became one of the first online institutions to win inclusion in the recommendation service.
ACE also announced on Tuesday that it will set up a Presidential Innovation Lab that will bring together college leaders to discuss the potential of MOOC's and new business models for higher education. The lab is supported by an $895,453 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of about $3-million in new MOOC-related grants announced Tuesday.
'Next Generation of AP Courses'
Ms. Koller stressed that the new arrangement is merely a pilot project, and that the courses have to pass muster before they win admission to ACE Credit.
Even if ACE recommends the courses, it is up to individual colleges to decide whether to grant transfer credit for them. So the next question becomes, Will colleges welcome such transfers?
Tristan Denley, provost at Austin Peay State University, outside of Nashville, said that if MOOC's proved an equivalent replacement for traditional courses, he would expect his institution to embrace them.
Josh Jarrett, deputy director for postsecondary success at the Gates foundation, said that "MOOC's may be the next generation of AP courses." [snip]
For instance, another Gates-foundation grant announced Tuesday, for $1,440,900, will support researchers from Ithaka S+R, a group that speeds development of information technologies for higher education, to study the effectiveness of MOOC's used in a "flipped classroom" model. In that model, students at traditional campuses watch lecture videos for homework and use class time for discussion rather than lecture.
In that way, Mr. Jarrett said, MOOC's may turn out to be a high-tech replacement for a textbook.
The Gates foundation also announced Tuesday the names of nine institutions that will receive grants to develop remedial and introductory classes. Those institutions include Cuyahoga Community College Foundation, Wake Technical Community College, and Ohio State University.
The foundation also announced a grant of $269,000 to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to consider a consortium of colleges that would jointly build MOOC's and other digital course materials.
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ACE > ACE to Assess Potential of MOOCs, Evaluate Courses for Credit-Worthiness
InSide High Ed > Establishment Opens Door for MOOCs
NYTimes > College Credit Eyed for Online Courses
USA Today > College Credit for Online Courses Gains Momentum