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Thu Feb 7, 2013, 01:50 PM

 

College credit recommended for free online courses

Source: USA Today

Students may soon be able to receive college credit for the free online courses that are reshaping higher education.

The American Council on Education announced Thursday that it is recommending degree credit for five courses offered by Coursera, a Mountain View-based company that provides "massive open online courses" from leading universities.

Many colleges and universities use the association's recommendations to determine whether to grant credit for nontraditional courses.

...

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/07/online-courses-moocs-college-credit/1899175/

33 replies, 3096 views

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Reply College credit recommended for free online courses (Original post)
michigandem58 Feb 2013 OP
mike_c Feb 2013 #1
Deep13 Feb 2013 #2
ScreamingMeemie Feb 2013 #3
dgibby Feb 2013 #5
Deep13 Feb 2013 #15
ScreamingMeemie Feb 2013 #19
CreekDog Feb 2013 #33
CountAllVotes Feb 2013 #6
ScreamingMeemie Feb 2013 #8
CountAllVotes Feb 2013 #17
enlightenment Feb 2013 #18
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #27
enlightenment Feb 2013 #30
melm00se Feb 2013 #7
mike_c Feb 2013 #9
michigandem58 Feb 2013 #10
mike_c Feb 2013 #11
Bradical79 Feb 2013 #12
Bradical79 Feb 2013 #14
Deep13 Feb 2013 #16
joshcryer Feb 2013 #21
LanternWaste Feb 2013 #24
Duer 157099 Feb 2013 #26
exboyfil Feb 2013 #31
bluestateguy Feb 2013 #4
joshcryer Feb 2013 #23
EastKYLiberal Feb 2013 #13
Xithras Feb 2013 #25
WilmywoodNCparalegal Feb 2013 #20
joshcryer Feb 2013 #22
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #29
exboyfil Feb 2013 #32
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #28

Response to michigandem58 (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 01:56 PM

1. coursera's latest disaster....



http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/04/coursera-forced-call-mooc-amid-complaints-about-course#ixzz2K3JpY1HV

MOOC Mess
February 4, 2013 - 3:00am
By Scott Jaschik

Maybe it was inevitable that one of the new massive open online courses would crash. After all, MOOCs are being launched with considerable speed, not to mention hype. But MOOC advocates might have preferred the collapse of a course other than the one that was suspended this weekend, one week into instruction: "Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application."

Technology and design problems are largely to blame for the course's problems. And many students are angry that a course about online education -- let alone one offered by the Georgia Institute of Technology -- wouldn't have figured out the tech issues in advance, or been able to respond quickly once they became evident. Many of the problems related to the course's use of Google Docs to sign up for group discussions.

Among the comments on blogs and Twitter: "Wowzers, 40,000 students signed up for #foemooc considering google spreadsheets limit of 50 simultaneous editors ... not a good choice!" and "Egads, this group thing in #foemooc is a giant clusterf*#k."

Those comments weren't coming from random undergraduates. As a number of students noted, much of the class seemed to be made up of professors, teachers and experts on online education (including Inside Higher Ed readers who forwarded information about the course to us) and many of these students expected a professional experience. They reacted with a mix of anger and humor to the implosion of the course, tweeting " 'Fundamentals of Online Education' MOOC, broke down in the first week. Cue scathing declarations of symbolism" and "Any one else find it ironic that the Fundamentals in Online Education #coursera class fell apart after one week?"

more@link

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Response to michigandem58 (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:07 PM

2. Dear promoters of on-line education...

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:13 PM

3. It is the only way for some to obtain an education.

I can see a place for it among working parents, the disabled, etc. There was no physical way I could have completed my degree as a young, single, working mother back in the day because I hadn't the time to attend physical classes nor the $$$ to finance daycare for my child--who would then, have never seen me.

I think your post is a bit harsh.

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Response to ScreamingMeemie (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:16 PM

5. +1. n/t

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Response to ScreamingMeemie (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 05:13 PM

15. It's no way to obtain an education.

Yes, college is expensive and time consuming. We as a society might make it less expensive, but there is nothing we can do about the time and still be able to call it an education.

Robots are not teachers. You can't have a class room discussion on line. You can't tell which students are paying attention or are confused and lost on line. You can't take questions from the class on-line. And unless you limit the size of the audience, you cannot give real examinations on line. What if it is a language class? How the hell can you teach a foreign language on line?

This is a way for administrators to save money on faculty and building space. Period. And it is a pretty crummy prospect for the future.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #15)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 05:47 PM

19. Yes it is. And I support it. For some it is their only shot at an education.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:55 PM

33. Online education has its place in educational options

I don't think it can or should replace in class instruction and its interactive benefits.

But the benefits of online learning are already evident, not to the exclusion of classroom or campus education, but in concert with it.

I'm taking a class at a community college right now and the online resources are incredible and are making my time outside of class much more productive towards that class than would have been the case before those resources.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:18 PM

6. I couldn't agree more!

You don't learn a thing with these sometimes "free" on-line courses. I've been there and done that already and sadly, nope, I did not learn a thing and it was a complete waste of time and effort.

Nothing beats the "real deal" which is a real person in front of your teaching YOU something, not some bogus on-line course which may or may not be of the best quality. You have no one to consult with should the need arise. Nope, sorry about that!

If you want to learn something, try going to a community college which might cost you a few bucks but it is a far better option that these "on-line" courses.



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Response to CountAllVotes (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:32 PM

8. Picture yourself at 21, with a young child and two jobs that take up your day

from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Yet you'd like to further your education without depriving your child of your presence in his/her life, to say nothing of the fact that you cannot afford the extra childcare when you're already paying through the nose for care during the day.

No, I think there is a place for online education in our world. It would be awesome if everyone could afford the time and money that goes into a brick and mortar (yes, even at a community college) education. It just isn't so these days.

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Response to ScreamingMeemie (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 05:26 PM

17. that is what was done

It took me 17 years to get my Bachelor's degree and I did it while working full-time.

School was at night, on the weekends and whenever/wherever I could fit it in. That is why I say I've done it all and no, I cannot see how I could have ever learned many subjects via an on-line class free or not free.

No humans need apply.

Alas, the final blow to society as we know it.

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Response to ScreamingMeemie (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 05:33 PM

18. There is a VERY big difference

between on-line/distance education and MOOC's.

There is definitely a place for on-line courses, taught by actual humans in a planned environment with limited class size (so said human can give some measure of attention to the students.

Do you really think that the stressed 21 year old is going to learn much watching video lectures with no ability to ask questions because there is no way on earth the instructor (assuming they are even available beyond providing said lectures) can begin to respond to thousands of students?

You're arguing apples and oranges. MOOCs are nightmarish and poorly designed - they may eventually become a tool useful enough to be credit-worthy but they are not ready for prime-time.

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Response to enlightenment (Reply #18)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:19 PM

27. Online chat discussions can fill in the gap

I'd rather have a video of the lecture so that I can pause it and rewind over a part that I didn't get when I first heard it.

If you need extra consultation, there are online chats, Skype, message forums, email, etc.

Online learning is the future.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #27)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:15 PM

30. You aren't grasping what I'm saying.

There are plenty of online courses available and many offer full video and even live interactive content with the instructor. They are facilitated, planned courses that provide an environment where a self-motivated student can "drive" their own education and learning process - and prove that they have acquired the knowledge and/or skills required to be considered competent.

MOOCs are "online" only in their platform. Then are not - at this point - viable alternatives for credit-based assessment. One day they will be; but they aren't now.

If you want to enroll in a MOOC for personal enrichment, then go for it. I have. Some are very interesting. The "chat" discussions are worthless - far too many people, frankly - and the assessments (not always offered) and projects are the equivalent of studying flash cards. No real assessment of material studied or skills learned. But the lectures are often very good.

I am astonished that people (in general, not you specifically) complain about large class sizes at university and then embrace the idea of taking an online course with ten or twenty or forty thousand other students. I suppose if one believes that taking a class is sufficient, that no assessment is needed and completion proves competency, then the current format of most MOOCs is indeed the future.

I'm not sure that I would want to (for example) take my taxes to an accountant who earned their degree in that fashion, but everyone's mileage differs.

In my opinion - and the opinion of many others - MOOCs just aren't ready to become credit-based assessment tools.

http://digital.hechingerreport.org/content/my-first-mooc-crashed_371/
http://digital.hechingerreport.org/content/addendum-to-mooc-crash_388/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+hechingerreport%2FphyU+%28Digital%29

That isn't saying they can't be. This blog post by someone who designs online courses, offers some very good ideas about what MOOCs need to do to improve.
http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/
The one thing it does not address is the unlimited size of the courses. An instructor may not be "leading" a MOOC, but the courses still require human interaction. Can one or two or even a dozen people adequately facilitate a class of 40,000?

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:20 PM

7. a bit harsh

there are quite a few people (myself included) who cannot avail themselves of traditional in-classroom instruction as a way to a degree.

I am working on my masters (history) and I have been unable to find a program in my area that offers evening classes. I cannot just quit my job for 18 months or so, so I am taking masters classes purely online from an accredited masters program.

the world is changing and higher education is changing with it.

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Response to melm00se (Reply #7)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:40 PM

9. unfortunately, the driving force behind online higher ed is not access...

...but rather profits, at least in most cases. That is especially the case at state universities, where classroom instruction and the tuition students pay for it is subsidized by state taxpayers. Online courses at those institutions are often offered through university extension or some similar institutional arm, which means they do not receive state support. Often the university's costs for offering the same courses online are substantially less, compared to offering those courses in state-support classrooms, while students in self support are pure profit and no cost to the institution's operating funds. It's a financial windfall for the university. At my institution, for example, students pay nearly three times as much per credit for self support classes online as they pay for the same classes on campus. There is still considerable debate about whether they receive the same value for their inflated costs.

It might not be so bad though, if those extra costs were the value added necessary for real distance learning, as you suggest-- increasing access for students who would otherwise be unable to attend school. In practice, however, that's not what happens. Not counting MOOCs, which are not usually offered for credit (there are a very few experiments with that happening right now, e.g. the OP and the recent contract between Udacity and San Jose State), nearly every student in most online courses is already a student matriculated at the institution offering the course. In other words, they're mostly not students who can't attend school otherwise-- they're students at the school who can't get into classes in time to graduate, otherwise.

In other words, many state universities are underfunding classroom instruction and closing needed sections of class, then opening those same classes online, at much higher self-support cost, to the students who would otherwise enjoy state-support access in the traditional manner. It's undermining educational opportunities for less well off students who cannot afford the higher costs, or forcing them to take on additional debt. It's the for-profit model of higher education being rolled out at not-for-profit state universities.

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Response to mike_c (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:43 PM

10. So we'd better stop free courses, to protect those who can't afford higher education

 

Okay.

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Response to michigandem58 (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:46 PM

11. that's utter nonsense....

Online courses from CalState Online are mostly about $500 per credit unit (or thereabouts, it varies), which is more than twice the cost for those same units in state-supported classrooms. THAT'S the threat to low income students.

The free classes, generally MOOCs, are not getting anyone a degree. They're for self education, largely, and that's great. But it won't get you a degree. Period.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)


Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 04:45 PM

14. Right back at you -nt

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Response to Bradical79 (Reply #14)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 05:14 PM

16. McSchool. nt

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 06:08 PM

21. Supporters of institutional education.

Have fun being systematically rendered irrelevant.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:27 AM

24. As too was said to Gutenberg... but in German, most likely.

As too was said to Gutenberg some time ago... but in German, most likely.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:13 PM

26. Wow, that's quite a statement

I don't even want to know what provoked it.

Many people learn quite effectively online. WTF?

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:36 PM

31. My daughter is using PSEO and online

courses to get her first two years of engineering done while still in High School. Her exams are proctored so they are no different than the traditional class. Many of her lectures are videotaped, and she has access to her instructors through the computer. Not every course can be done this way (for example she took Chemistry at a local university), but she has had good courses in her other subject areas. She was required to film her speeches under tightly controlled conditions (no chance for reedits) in front of an audience (so redos were limited - she only had one "take" of her last two speeches for this reason). She was required to make numerous postings on discussion questions which were evaluated for content and insight.

She basically flushed most of her academic classes for her junior and senior year at the high school. She is now able to control her schedule (versus having four finals on the same day and five tests on the same day in her hardest classes which happened last year as a Sophomore). She does the same work that she would have in the High School class, but she is guaranteed credit that she can apply to her engineering degree.

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Response to michigandem58 (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:15 PM

4. If they universities are to offer credit, they will not (and should not) be free anymore

Small fee perhaps, but not free. The instructors and tech people deserve to get paid.

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Response to bluestateguy (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 06:20 PM

23. It seems to be their plan all along. It's $70-100 per course.

Coursera didn't seem to have a coherent business model but adopting ACE CREDIT (a scam in my opinion; ones knowledge application is not determined by 'credits') looks to be how they're going to get a lot of revenue, especially if they are able to offer all courses that exist.

https://www.coursera.org/signature/guidebook

$100 per course means you wind up spending about $5k per degree (ACE CREDIT determines how many credits a given course receives so I just rounded up, some courses are 1 credit while others are 4 credits or possibly more).

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Response to michigandem58 (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 04:23 PM

13. Excellent development in working around the scam that is for-profit education. nt

 

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Response to EastKYLiberal (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:07 PM

25. The biggest losers with this technology are going to be the public uni's, not the for-profits.

This conversation has already been rattling around a number of political circles. There will always be a market among the 1%ers for degrees from Yale, Harvard, etc. Theres a penache to an Ivy League degree that will never go away.

Public colleges and universities, on the other hand, exist at taxpayer expense to bring education to the masses. There's been some discussion for several years now about online courses replacing traditional public colleges, because online systems are cheaper to run. Many policymakers seem to be regarding this more as an eventuality than a possibility. Here in California, the community college systems have already been informally notified that increases in funding to account for growing student populations won't be coming in the future...instead, the colleges have been quietly told to start ramping up their distance ed programs, because new students will need to be accomodated online. Similarly, the University of California system has recently announced a new distance education system that would allow students to start pursuing their degrees online. No campus required.

Here's the rub. If you're just taking your classes online anyway, why would you pay a state college or university hundreds or thousands of dollars a semester, when groups like Coursera are offering the same for-credit courses free, or for a nominal fee? Most people wouldn't. Few people will pay for a "state" school when they offer nothing that isn't already available from the free alternatives. The increasing interest by the states in pushing students online to reduce costs will have the net effect of pushing them out of the state school system entirely.

Here in California, a lot of visionary thinkers are saying that, 100 years from now, only a handful of our current public colleges and universities will still exist, and they will primarily focus on technical subjects that require a hands-on learning environment. Everyone else will learn from home on their computer. Information will have little value because it's instantly reproducible, and those who based a career around passing that information onto the next generation will find themselves unemployed.

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Response to michigandem58 (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 05:54 PM

20. Coursera is awesome

I have taken a few classes from reputable institutions including my own grad school alma mater. Courses offered include basic calculus, astronomy, lots of science and engineering classes, lots of computer science classes, and more.

All the institutions are highly accredited and well known. The course I'm taking now is on the nature of arguments and reasoning. I took it in college eons ago, but I am glad that I can re-take it and learn something new. The course is made up of video lectures, online discussion fora, chat sessions, homework and quizzes. There are even meet-ups organized around the U.S. and the world where students meet face to face. The professors have been gracious and accommodating when responding to e-mails.

There are thousands of students from all parts of the world, including countries such as Iran and Afghanistan. It has been an awesome experience to be able to discuss some topics with people from all corners of the world who would otherwise not be able to afford a U.S. college education.

There are people of all ages, as well, and from all backgrounds. I am glad that some Coursera classes can now receive credits. Not everyone lives near a college or university and not everyone can afford the tuition or meet attendance requirements. Education should be as free as possible and as available as possible to everyone, not just those who can pay tuition.

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Response to WilmywoodNCparalegal (Reply #20)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 06:15 PM

22. The whole ACE CREDIT thing is a scam, anyway.

It's all designed in such a way that a student pretty much invests half their entire life paying back loans and all because your knowledge and expertise is not verified unless you've been educated via an accredited source. To get accredited? Spend a boatload of money paying into an archaic and institutionalized system specifically designed to take your money.

Who is to say that an Iranian who learns via open courses is not as smart or educated as someone who learns via a $100k student loan over 4 years? Only those invested in institutional eduction would say that.

Note: I think that Coursera is OK, but I expect more open alternatives to happen eventually.

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Response to WilmywoodNCparalegal (Reply #20)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:25 PM

29. I'm taking an Algorithms course with Coursera right now, and it's kicking my ass

which means that it's worthwhile. I'm very impressed with its presentation and organization of course materials.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #29)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 03:40 PM

32. I liked the Python course I took last year

The credentialing and accreditation issues need to be addressed though. For general learning it is great. If you still need to get your B.S. you should look at one of the community college online offerings and compare the class to transfer artriculation agreements for universities which you are interested in.

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Response to michigandem58 (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:23 PM

28. Online learning is the future of higher education

I'd rather have videos of the lectures so that I can pause and rewind over a portion that I didn't understand the first time that I heard it. Additionally, I can view the lectures at my own pace and time. I can schedule my classes when I want to, not because of a syllabus. If you need extra consultation, you could schedule a Skype session, an online chat, message board, email, etc.

Sure, online college courses need to be upgraded, but this is the future.

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