Who is giving credit for MOOCs?
Fitzgerald, M. (2013) Coursera courses approved for college credit InformationWeek Education, February 7
Not many organizations – but the list is growing
This is a useful article that lists a number of schemes to give credits for MOOCs. Unfortunately it’s likely to be out of date already, given the pace of MOOC developments.
And be careful. A reputable organization such as the American Council on Education may certify certain MOOCs for credit but it does not necessarily mean the college or university that offers the MOOC will accept the ACE certification if a student wants to use that for credit.
A very small number of institutions have said that if students pass a recognized exam, then they may recognize their own MOOCs for credit, but they will not accept MOOCs from other institutions.
This highlights a really important issue about open education. For those looking to access post-secondary education, or to take their own choice of courses, it is no good courses such as MOOCs, or resources being open, if institutions won’t recognize them.
University admission policies are probably the biggest barrier to open education. There’s a reason for that – many institutions are funded on a capped FTE basis – in other words, if they take more students than the state or province has set for the institution, they don’t get the state or provincial funding for the extra students. Recognizing MOOCs may ease that in that there is no direct cost in accepting credits from another provider, but then the institution may lose that funding if the student is already part of the recognized FTEs. Whether a MOOC will be recognized for credit within a particular institution ultimately comes down to the view of individual academics and their view of a MOOC and how it fits with the requirements of a particular program, which is not terribly encouraging. You can see how messy this can all get, and it’s why universities in particular have such complex and niggly admission requirements.
It will be interesting to see whether, in the long run, MOOCs make a dent in the shortage of university places, if at all, or whether they find their value outside the system as general education programs, much like educational broadcasting in the past.
What is clear is that they are likely to muddy an already murky process for admission to university programs for those who don’t fit the standard GPA system, which surely is long due for an overhaul (why should my score in a physics exam when I was 14 deny me access to a science program when I am 30 and have work experience and later qualifications?). Students need clarity rather than confusion about what they need to do to get a university place, but above all they need a rationale and fair system with as few barriers as possible. MOOCs are not particularly helping with this, but they are opening up the discussion about what should count for credit in or admission to a university program, and it’s about time.