By Michael Goldstein and Greg Ferenbach
Massive open online courses are all the rage. By allowing anyone to take an online course — in the original form and without receiving a recognized credential from an institution — MOOCs appear to skirt the edges of the complex, multilevel regulatory framework governing American higher education. By different names, these courses have actually been around for years, but the promotion of MOOCs by prestigious American institutions has created a tsunami of interest. In the age of the MOOC are fascinating possibilities for advancing access to quality higher education. Yet it is not a field without land mines and tiger traps.
Already, as the business model for MOOCs has evolved, regulators are taking note.
Currently, there are several directions the MOOC business model appears likely to take, each potentially raising its own regulatory issues. There is the online course provider; the provider of identity-verified competency testing; and the credentialing entity, which could grant conventional academic credit and a degree, or provide non-traditional “badges” or certificates of completion that might be aggregated into a conventional degree.
Although most regulation of higher education is still based on the historic model of on-site, bricks-and-mortar campuses, legal and regulatory rules that evolved in response to distance education business models may potentially also apply to MOOCs.
[ Full article available at University Business: http://www.universitybusiness.com/article/legal-and-regulatory-aspects-mooc-mania ]