Education Association Gives Startup Some Extra Credit

The American Council on Education will analyze courses that online startup Coursera offers and decide if they can be taken for college credit.

A key higher education association could help give a disruptive startup some validation.

On Tuesday, Coursera announced that the American Council on Education (ACE) would begin evaluating five of its 200 freely available online courses — from prestigious universities such as the University of Michigan, Duke, Stanford, and Princeton — for possible credit recommendations.

As with any approach, there are many questions about long-term potential.

In other words, courses students take via Coursera could count toward college education.

The move comes as part of a larger move by the association to support massive open online courses (MOOCs), which are considered a cost-efficient way to provide education.

“MOOCs are an intriguing, innovative new approach that holds much promise for engaging students across the country and around the world, as well as for helping colleges and universities broaden their reach,” ACE President Molly Corbett Broad said in a statement to Bloomberg. “As with any approach, there are many questions about long-term potential.”

As part of the evaluations, Coursera would offer remote proctoring tools for exams, utilizing a webcam, for a small fee. The evaluations would begin by 2013, but universities would not be obligated to award credit in these cases, though many do follow ACE’s recommendations.

Coursera, which has been growing in popularity of late, could use the good press.

Last month, the company drew unwelcome attention after the state of Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education said it would bar the usage of the service in the state — a stance that it immediately backed away from after public criticism.

Often we hear many stories of trade groups and associations reacting negatively to market disruption. Is ACE’s approach the way to go? Let us know in the comments.

(TMG archive photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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