One of the leading unanswered questions in higher education globally is how MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – will evolve in the coming years.  Those college-level courses, delivered on-line and offered by some of the top institutions in the U.S. and around the world, are open to anyone, without charge, but also without college credit.  Tens of thousands of people have taken courses, but turning those courses into college credits that could lead to a degree has been largely absent from the higher education equation.

Now, Connecticut’s Charter Oak State College  is setting out to change that.Charter-oak-state-college-logo

Connecticut’s public online college has announced that it will award credit for select online courses taken through the edX.org platform, one of the most popular MOOC programs.  edX participating  institutions include Harvard, MIT, CalTech, University of Texas System, University of California – Berkley, Davidson, Dartmouth,  Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and University of Chicago.

Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX offers “high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere.” According to the edX website, the organization was “founded by and continue to be governed by colleges and universities,” and is “the only leading MOOC provider that is both nonprofit and open source.”edx_logo_final

This collaboration creates the potential for edX learners to earn college credit for those courses reviewed and approved by Charter Oak’s Connecticut Credit Assessment Program (CCAP). Ed Klonoski, President, Charter Oak State College said, “For Charter Oak, evaluating prior learning for college credit is what we were created to do. Now, we have the opportunity to partner with a worldwide leader in online learning, edX, to award college credit for successful completion of select courses.”

“We are pleased to offer a new pathway to college credit through this collaboration with Charter Oak State College,” said Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT Professor. “EdX learners around the world will now be able to earn credit for their hard work and success in MOOCs, offering an opportunity to many who would otherwise never have access to high-quality education and credit.”

The edX website indicates the MOOCs are offered by 85 global partners, and 580,000 course completion certificates have been issued in just the past few years.

The first two edX courses Charter Oak will offer credit for are open for enrollment now, www.edx.org/charter-oak , and begin in January. They include MITx’s Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python beginning January 13, and UC BerkeleyX’s Engineering Software as a Service (SaaS) Part 2 beginning January 11. Learners can earn three lower level college credits from Charter Oak for the successful completion of the MITx course, and two upper level credits from Charter Oak for the UC BerkeleyX course.

Additional edX courses continue to be reviewed for credit, and will be included in the program in the coming weeks and months, officials indicated.

Klonoski added, ““This partnership reflects our mission of using non-traditional means to speed adults toward the completion of their college degrees in a cost effective manner.  It is another innovative strategy for us to increase enrollment and support our sustainability by providing an outstanding value to students. The total cost to students of the course and credit is approximately $350.”

Officials highlighted the benefits for edX learners:

  • Course credit for open online courses – Charter Oak provides a pathway for learners to earn accredited college credit for knowledge learned through MOOCs.
  • Cost Effective – students earn affordable college credit that can then be applied to credentials, continuing ed credits, or completion of a college degree.
  • Learn before payment – students learn now and decide to pay later for college credit. This provides qualified students with a pathway for academic exploration who may otherwise not seek college credit.
  • Unlimited Reach – an unlimited number of students worldwide can study and receive college credit without any barriers of scaling up.
  • Eliminates Barriers to Admission – students can study and earn credit, sidestepping the process of applications, application fees and transcript requests.The-MOOCs-what-changes-for-teaching-tomorrow

Participating students in the new initiative will first enroll as a verified student on edX.org in a course that Charter Oak State College has reviewed and approved for credit. Students then take the course through the edX.org platform. Students have the ability to check at any time as they progress through the course as to whether they have met the requirements for credit.

Once credit eligibility has been attained, a message appears on the student’s dashboard and they are sent an email. Students can then complete the request for credit from Charter Oak and fee payment on the edX site. Students then confirm their credit request with Charter Oak State College, and will then have credit on a Charter Oak State College transcript that can be used to meet continuing education, professional certification or degree requirements at other institutions or at Charter Oak State College.

Founded in 1973, Charter Oak State College (www.CharterOak.edu) is Connecticut’s only public online college.  Charter Oak students complete degrees through online courses and alternative approaches to earning credit. Charter Oak is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and governed by Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education.

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