A big question for MOOCs, the free online courses that hundreds of colleges now offer, is whether employers will take them seriously as credentials. But some of the biggest MOOC producers may have figured out how to jump-start employer buy-in: Get big-name companies to help design them.
On Wednesday, Coursera, one of the largest MOOC platforms, announced that it had teamed up with more than half a dozen companies that will help create capstone projects for its course series. The companies include the tech giant Google as well as Instagram and Shazam—all names likely to entice students looking to get a start in Silicon Valley.
Nineteen colleges now work with Coursera to offer what amount to microdegrees—it calls them Course Specializations—that require students to take a series of short MOOCs and then finish a hands-on capstone project. The serialization approach has proved an effective way to bring in revenue to support the free courses—to get a certificate proving they passed the courses, students each end up paying around $500 in fees.
By helping develop MOOC-certificate programs, companies are giving a seal of approval to those new credentials that may be more important to some students than whether an accredited university or a well-trained professor is involved.
Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, says that teaming up with companies can “really drive home the value proposition that these courses are giving you a skill that is valuable in the workplace.” She says it also lets Coursera play a role in “bridging the gap” between higher education and industry.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/meet-the-new-self-appointed-mooc-accreditors-google-and-instagram/55807 ]