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Weekly News Roundup | SUNY Giving Credit for MOOCs?

MOOC News roundup

Welcome. Here’s your roundup of MOOC News for March 31, 2013. 


While all the commentary last week, including ours, was focused on the California legislature’s bill to transfer online coursework for credit in the state university system, it turns out the State of New York was up to something similar without much notice. Thank goodness for the CHE and Inside Higher Ed.

The New York idea would go even further, operating on something similar to the “life credits” model that awards college credits for work experience. (I’ve never understood the logic of that. Why doesn’t the job market just recognize the work experience as valuable to begin with?) The new idea here is to count taking  a MOOC as among the life experiences. Thus, credit for MOOCs. As in California, New York seems motivated to backstop oversubscribed/underfunded courses so students can actually finish their degrees. SUNY system Chancellor Nancy Zimpher reportedly says up to one third of a student’s degree could come from credit for MOOCs.


As one angry commenter put it in a blog post about the merits of MOOCs, “Get back to me when employers start recognizing them.” Well, it’s happening. American Radio Works has a fascinating interview with Paul Arnold, the Senior Director of AppDirect about how they are poaching engineers from the Coursera’s Computer Science classes, including “nontraditional students who would have been overlooked very easily in our regular process.”


Udacity is experimenting with a way to address the limitations inherent in MOOCs with a something called Course Pods, which are “in-person tutorials for online courses.” It’s a very limited experiment — only one Intro to Computer Science course and in only three locations — though they’re looking for volunteers to lead more tutoring sessions, which would meet one-hour per week during the eight-week course.

It’s going to take a lot of volunteers to keep up with enrollments in MOOCs. Did you hear that Coursera is boasting 3 million users enrolled in 10 million courses? I think it’s fair to count me as one real user — there’s one course I’m doing my best in — but I don’t think they should count all 9,999,999 courses I signed up for.


Brown University is going to start incorporating MOOCs into its efforts to promote STEM careers. To counter the problem of attrition of promising students from STEM fields, they run a program called Summer@Brown, which tries to catch them young and keep them. This summer they will be integrating into that program an introductory-level MOOC titled Exploring Engineering on the Canvas platform. Starts June 3. This one has an enrollment cap — only 95 slots left today.


Tom Vander Ark drew our attention to an ambitious plan by World Education University to provide a complete, accredited, ad-supported/freemium, MOOC-based college degree . It sounds like accreditation will be the hard part of the code to crack.


The Blended Schools Network is running a MOOC titled “Today’s Blended Teacher” especially for educators working to improve the quality of blended lessons and to grow their professional network. Free to all. Starts April 15. Sounds like a nice example of “Fine for thee, and fine for me, too.” We noted another MOOC for school administrators last week, and in this fast-moving field, two might make a trend. I wonder what role educators continuing their own education in specialized courses will end up having in evangelizing for MOOCs.


That’s all we have time for this week, but that’s not all that happened by a long-shot. Let us know about the news we missed with your comments below. See you next week.


Robert McGuire (52 Posts)

My content marketing services firm provides all-in-one external staff solutions for companies looking to grow their business through thought leadership. I started MOOC News & Reviews in 2013 out of a fascination with the economic, demographic and technological forces impacting edtech, online education and higher education, and I wanted to provide a forum for serious discussion of this new phenomenon. I love building communities of writers engaging in lively critical dialogue about emerging issues.