Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Exploring credits for free online courses

Elite universities have learned this year that offering free online courses will draw a huge global audience.

Now educators want to know whether those courses are worthy of academic credit and how they might be used to help more people pursue college degrees.

The American Council on Education, which represents university presidents, said Tuesday it is teaming with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the free online education provider Coursera on an initiative to seek answers to those questions.

The announcement is the latest sign of the emerging influence of what are known as mass­ive open online courses, or MOOCs. MOOCs have gained momentum, with universities drawn toward mass audiences and consumers lured by the prospect of sampling elite education for free.

“It’s growing and continues to grow rapidly,” said Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield, a participant in the new research on MOOCs. “People are looking for affordable access to higher education.”

Schroeder was featured by the Washington Post on November 13, 2012.

Read the article online