Since massive open online courses exploded into the public consciousness, college presidents have been trying to figure out how to use higher education’s most hyped innovation to deal with one of its greatest challenges: enrolling and graduating more students at a time of rising costs and declining support.
Academic Partnerships, a company that helps traditional institutions build online programs, believes it has found a way. And it involves awarding academic credit to students who take MOOCs—at no charge.
The company announced on Wednesday that it and a group of its public-university clients were planning to recast certain conventional online courses as MOOCs in the hope that the free courses could serve as a tool for recruiting students into their online degree programs—in particular, students who are likely to succeed.
Academic Partnerships is calling the new program MOOC2Degree. The particulars will vary by institution, but in general each participating university will allow students anywhere in the world to take an online course free. If a student then decides to enroll at the university, the university will count the credit hours earned in the MOOC toward a degree without charging the student. Universities typically charge students several hundred dollars per credit hour, and courses typically carry three credit hours.
Randy Best, chairman and chief executive of Academic Partnerships, talked about the program’s goals in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “We believe that it turns the MOOC … into a practical tool,” he said...read more