Moocs credit given the green light

Five massive open online courses, or Moocs, have been recommended for credit by the American Council on Education, meaning students who complete the courses could potentially use their experience as currency towards a college degree.

February 9, 2013

The five courses, available on the Coursera Mooc platform, were chosen to be evaluated in November of 2012.

The undergraduate credit courses that have been approved are pre-calculus from the University of California, Irvine; introduction to genetics and evolution from Duke University; bioelectricity: a quantitative approach from Duke University; and calculus: single variable from the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, one course, algebra from the University of California, Irvine, was approved for vocational credit.

However, although Moocs are traditionally offered free of charge, the ACE recommendation only applies to students who pay a fee in order to have their identity verified.

The so-called “Signature Track” scheme, announced last month, consists of a series of identity verification measures, before students sit a special online proctored exam after the course ends.

Students who meet all requirements and successfully complete one of the five pre-approved courses may request a transcript with credit recommendations from ACE, which they can then present to the college or university of their choice for prerequisite or undergraduate credit consideration, to be granted at the discretion of the institution.

“A rigorous evaluation of these courses showed that they meet ACE’s standards for college credit recommendations,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of ACE.

“This is an important first step in ACE’s work to examine the long-term potential of Moocs and whether this innovative new approach can engage students across the country and worldwide while helping raise degree completion, increasing learning productivity and deepening college curricula.”

Duke University provost Peter Lange added: “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.

“Moocs, often in combination with the creativity of individual universities, have much potential to open and enrich the educational offerings available to students across the United States and the globe. We are pleased to be part of these efforts.”

ACE is responsible for recommendations designed to help students obtain credit for non-traditional learning experiences, such as training received in the armed forces, or in the course of employment.

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