MOOC2Degree Initiative Raises the For-Credit Profile of MOOCs
Last week, Academic Partnerships introduced the MOOC2Degree program. Through this innovative effort, some of the public universities that Academic Partnerships works with are going to offer an initial course in a degree program as a free MOOC. Students who complete the course successfully will be eligible for full college credit for the course if they choose to enroll in the full degree program. This is an exciting step forward for the intriguing new world of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), bringing them a step closer to wider acceptance for college and university credit.
Under this initiative, one of the initial course offerings in selected online degree programs from some major universities will be converted into a MOOC. “Each MOOC will be the same course with the same academic content, taught by the same instructors, as currently offered degree programs at participating universities,” according to the press release.
I spoke briefly with Randy Best, Founder and Chairman of Academic Partnerships, about MOOC2Degree and he was particularly pleased that this initiative is making MOOCs more ‘inclusive’ than they have been thus far. Many of the MOOCs offered to date have been from the likes of Princeton and Stanford and other high profile private universities, but these new offerings are from public institutions. Best also expressed confidence that the completion rate for these offering will be higher than the low rates seen thus far from MOOCs (often in the 10 to 20% range at best). Since these courses are germane to specific degree programs, it would seem likely that students who enroll would be interested in moving on to the degree, and therefore be more invested in completing the course.
Another intended benefit of this program is the potential to slightly lower the cost of attaining a degree, depending on each university’s approach to implementation of the MOOC2Degree program. While some may charge full cost to have the credit awarded, others may charge just a testing or proctoring fee for final exam.
Academic Partnership’s has a strategic partnership with Canvas Network, which these universities can choose to use at no cost to offer MOOC2Degree courses. Some of university partners already have an existing LMS system and may choose to use that instead.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, broadly known as a scholar of disruptive innovation, see this evolution in MOOCs as an exciting step forward for the concept. “The foothold Academic Partnership’s initiative creates for students and universities is truly exciting. This is exactly the spot in a market where successful disruptions always take root.”