A major provider of free online courses from elite colleges plans to announce Thursday that students in a handful of classes who pay a modest fee to have their work verified will be eligible for an official recommendation to help them obtain credit toward a degree.
The announcement from Coursera marks another step in the evolution of an experiment known as “massive, open online courses,” or MOOCs. Five courses offered via the California-based company were evaluated recently for creditworthiness by the American Council on Education.
ACE, which represents university presidents, agreed to recommend four courses for college credit provided that the student work is verified through proctoring. The courses are pre-calculus from the University of California at Irvine; introduction to genetics and evolution from Duke University; bioelectricity: a quantitative approach from Duke; and single-variable calculus from the University of Pennsylvania. ACE also recommended, for vocational credit, algebra from UC-Irvine.
This new path to college credit, of potential appeal to students seeking to lower tuition bills, will not be automatic.