In the world of higher education, we may be suffering from MOOC fatigue, but a recent development is worthy of mention.
According to an article in the Washington Post by Nick Anderson, the American Council on Education has "agreed to recommend four courses for college credit provided that the student work is verified through proctoring." The courses include algebra from the University of California at Irvine. Coursera, a major player in the MOOC field, will put the courses together.
ACE is an influential organization of college and university presidents.
The WP piece gets into the nuts and bolts. For instance:
This new path to college credit, of potential appeal to students seeking to lower tuition bills, will not be automatic.
Students must pay fees to Coursera in the range of $30 to $99 for screening to authenticate their identities and an additional $60 to $90 to take online proctored exams. Those who pass a course would then pay a small fee, estimated at about $20, to obtain a transcript from ACE. Then a student could use the ACE transcript to apply for credit from a higher-education institution of their choice. The decision to grant credit, in the end, is up to those institutions.
Most courses offered so far aren't found at community colleges, but it's probably just a matter of time before this changes. Here's a recent announcement from UT-Austin regarding its entry into the field, with a menu of courses that is more typical right now.As for the newest credit development, schools today would gladly accept an algebra course from UC-Irvine. However, as noted here before, a key variable to watch is whether the average community college student is prepared for the new format. Many teachers believe online instruction is only suited for certain kinds of students, and the attrition rate can be alarming. So far high attrition is also characteristic of MOOCs generally, but it doesn't take much imagination to picture a "race to the bottom" in which little effort by students is required.
Why so much sudden activity? Consider: a $20 fee in a course with 100,000 students racks up $2 million fast. And that's for one course. The "M" in MOOC stands for "massive." As in massive amounts of money.