Published on 2012/10/12

Accepting Credits for MOOCs: Good for Students, Good for Society

By granting transfer credits for the completion of a massive open online course, Colorado State University Global Campus has taken a massive step forward in the process of legitimizing MOOCs in mainstream higher education circles.

In recent weeks, Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) has stepped forward to accept Udacity’s CS101 Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Introduction to Computer Programming in transfer (3 credits). The decision has been widely followed, and in some circles questioned or simply tossed aside as inconsequential. Regardless of the response, CSU-Global remains steadfast that its decision is one that aligns with the fundamental premise of education, its belief that student knowledge acquisition should be recognized no matter what the source, and its mission of advancing adult student success in a global society through education.

MOOCs have the ability to be an intersection between advanced technological tools and high-quality, low-cost education—a win for society and for individuals. In its understanding of, and dedication to, adult and lifelong learning, CSU-Global appreciates that MOOCs can make a valuable contribution to education. To put actions behind its beliefs, CSU-Global brought together a faculty team to review CS101’s course learning outcomes, instructional activities, and assessment methods. From its review, the faculty team determined that students who completed the course and passed the proctored exam met the learning outcomes of an undergraduate computer science course. The university then agreed to provide three elective credits in transfer. In its actions, CSU-Global has not broken ‘tradition’; in fact, it has only looked at learning and the demonstration of knowledge according to the most simple of terms: did the student learn and acquire knowledge, and can the student prove that he or she has learned and acquired knowledge?

Colorado State University-Global Campus is the nation’s only 100 percent online, independently-accredited public university with the mission to advance adult student success in a global society through education, in Colorado and beyond. As of fall 2012, CSU-Global boasts over 6,500 active students with over 4,000 adults, over 1,200 graduates, a 2009 cohort retention rate of 73 percent, and 90 percent of students in spring 2012 attaining electronically-recorded learning outcome achievement scores at a level of 85 percent or higher. The university’s faculty and staff are clearly committed to learner retention and success, but even more so to the notion that public higher education is vital to today’s economy and the future success of America. The passion of CSU-Global’s stakeholders for public education is driven by an understanding of the need for accessible, low-cost, high-quality education now and into the future.

Would America be better or worse-off without new solutions and paradigms to addressing our current landscape of rising tuition costs, rising financial aid defaults, declining graduation rates and a growing populist disinterest in higher education? At CSU-Global, we strongly believe the latter; and while we may not have all of the answers to enhancing the current state of public higher education, we at least believe that working to incorporate new and innovative thinking is a reasonable and worthy way to try to propel forward the university, the industry of higher education, and the U.S. in our increasingly complex, technological, and globally-competitive world.

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Readers Comments

Yvonne Laperriere 2012/10/12 at 10:29 am

This is definitely “a win for society and a win for individuals”, but it is also a clear win for Udacity and for CSU-Global.

Udacity’s courses build some reputation in a crowded marketplace and CSU-Global gets exposure to many many more potential students for its other (not-so-free) online courses. An advantageous partnership for all, and one that I think we will be seeing more of very soon…

Neville Lansing 2012/10/14 at 5:24 pm

To all those institutions looking for ways to monetize MOOCs, look no further. This may not be a direct “cost” for taking the course, but if you accepted transfer credits for the MOOCs taught by your faculty, and put them into a relevant degree stream, you could create a pathway directly to your front door for students looking to turn their MOOC into something more

Belinda Chang 2012/10/18 at 8:48 pm

Has anyone given any thought to state distance education regulations in this regard? I thought distance education providers had to be approved by the state before credits could be awarded?

    Tony 2012/10/19 at 11:18 am

    Since they’re free, Massive Open Online Classes (MOOCs) get around State Authorization and will ultimately prove to be a double-edged sword for states, societies, and their educational systems. Those for a one-world order and creating systems of education good for “all” like MOOCs. I see their minimal benefits as not comparing to their massive destructive capabilities for individual freedoms and diversity of thought. Yeah, I know MOOCs can be argued both ways…and that it depends on how they’re used, but decisions about education being made lately because of Massively Open Financial Oppressive Stealing (MOFOs)do not bid well for country, culture, and belief systems. Business and technology are overstepping their bounds regarding education…and the saddest thing of all is that highly educated (some say) folks in education are perfectly willing to sell education out! You either hear me or you don’t. You will see what I mean in days, years to come.

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