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Credit for taking free, massive open online courses

Dave Cormier in a presentation about MOOC at Skolforum in Stockholm 2012.

Dave Cormier in a presentation about MOOC at Skolforum in Stockholm 2012.

In what I think is an interesting first, one of CSU’s campuses will grant students credit for participating in, and passing a test on, the Introduction to Computer Science course offered through Udacity, as reported in the New York Times. In another turn of events more recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that Amherst rejected joining edX¬†and San Jose State professors reject a Harvard professor’s MOOC. Additionally, Inside Higher Ed reports that Coursera actually generated some revenue (hat tip to EdTech Magazine).

I think all these developments are natural and wise actions. Learning can happen in many ways and so giving people credit for provable or verifiable learning, such as participation in a MOOC, should count, if applicable, in one’s degree program. Additionally, institutions must decide what their business is. Amherst and Colorado College are in the business of education on a personal scale, whereas MOOCs are about a large scale. Perhaps these will change someday, but until then, we’re going to continue to educate students on a more individual level.

One way for students to prove their participation in a MOOC (perhaps to get credit), is for the MOOC organizer to offer them verified certificates of completion at a cost. The learning is free, the proof is what you pay for. I think that’s better than an ad-driven model.

On a more personal note, I was a bit disappointed when I applied for grad school and learned that none of my previous grad school experience would transfer. I had completed all the coursework at the highest accredited university in the Philippines and none of the coursework transferred to my US school, though some of the coursework was the same. Allowing students to transfer credit from MOOCs is a good idea, as is issuing verified certification of MOOC participation.

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