We’re finally starting to see real, viable solutions materialize for getting college credit for free online classes. It’s happening slowly considering that the demand for free classes online is so high, but you can’t really fault the brick and mortar institutions for the lack of pace. Many of the universities that are participating in the effort to go digital are also some of the world’s oldest and most prestigious organizations. We can’t forget that they’re businesses too, and you can’t expect them to upend the industry they’re leading all at once without a rigorous approach to testing and measuring what happens when you give hundreds of thousands of people instant free access to what used to be reserved for a privileged few. That said, one big answer to how students may start to get credit for free online courses are starting to emerge – Proctored tests.
On Thursday Colorado State University’s Global Campus announced it would give three transfer credits to students who complete Introduction to Computer Science: Building a Search Engine, a free course offered by Udacity, and take a proctored test. While the Global Campus is apparently the first American institution to offer credit for a Udacity MOOC, several European universities have already done so. On the same day, EdX, the Harvard-M.I.T. online collaboration, announced that students in its MOOCs would be able to take proctored final exams at Pearson VUE’s brick-and-mortar testing centers around the world, where their identity can be verified.
While it’s not the most innovative approach and it might not scale well, I think it’s encouraging and practical. Baby steps.
You can read more about it on the New York Times.