Saturday, January 5, 2013

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.

By Becky Takeda-Tinker | President, Colorado State University—Global Campus

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?


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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