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Students Not Looking to Gain Credit for MOOCs

Numerous associations, institutions and government bodies have created clear links between Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and college credit in recent months, but students do not appear to be interested.

This is the conclusion higher education leaders across the country have been forced to accept after a year of hyped expectations surrounding MOOCs have been tempered with reality.

Last year, Colorado State University (CSU) – Global Campus was the first institution to offer a university credit for the completion of a MOOC. For $89, students could take a proctored exam to complete the course and earn relevant credit, less than 10 percent of the cost to take a comparable three-credit course through CSU.

However, despite the low cost to students, no one has taken the University up on their offer.

CSU-Global Campus Provost Jon Bellum said he did not expect many students to pursue these credits, since the credit-bearing MOOC applied to only one specific class and the credit itself would only count toward degree programs at CSU-Global Campus.

CSU-Global Campus is not alone in noticing this trend. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning’s (CAEL) LearningCounts program, aimed at helping students — especially adult learners — build experiential prior learning portfolios, is also reporting lower-than-expected numbers of students seeking to earn college credit for the completion of a MOOC.

According to Chari Leader Kelley, vice president of LearningCounts, not one student has attempted to redeem coursework from any of the big three MOOC providers; edX, Coursera or Udacity.

“It’s not happening as quickly as we had hoped,” Kelley told The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In spite of the lack of activity on this front, lawmakers continue to push MOOCs as a pathway for students to earn low-cost college credits. Florida recently enacted a bill calling for institutions to investigate ways to allow students to earn credits for the completion of MOOCs prior to enrolling at a college or university. California also has a bill in the works that would allow students to earn credit for MOOC completion.

Leader Kelley explained that the hype surrounding MOOCs might subside as administrators, association leaders and government officials learn more about the students enrolling in these courses.

“As I’ve learned more about the students in the MOOCs,” Kelley told The Chronicle of Higher Education, “I’ve become more educated about my expectations.”