The Catch in Arizona State’s Low-Cost Freshman Year Online: No Aid

23 Apr

By Jeffrey R. Young

Portrait of Anant Agarwal, the head of edX

Anant Agarwal, the head of edX, which teamed up with Arizona State U. in the new 
project: “Our mission is to provide education to people who need it the most.”
[ Micha Theiner/eyevine/Redux ]

When leaders of Arizona State University announced their unusual effort to let students complete their entire freshman year online at a sharply discounted rate, they took pains to distance the project from previous MOOCs, or massive open online courses.

Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State, stressed in an interview on Thursday that the university had until now avoided the MOOC trend. The project, he said, is something new, at one point calling its courses “curricular MOOCs” and at another using the term “super MOOC.”

Indeed, the challenge facing the new effort will be to do something that MOOCs have so far failed to achieve — creating a lower-cost pathway to help more people complete college. And many observers see plenty of obstacles for Arizona State, chief among them that students using the approach will not be eligible for federal financial aid.

The project is a partnership with edX, a MOOC provider started by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. Arizona State and edX plan to work together to build a series of online courses that will be free for anyone to take but that will allow students who pass them to earn ASU credit for around $600 per course. Students who finish eight of the online courses could effectively place out of their first year at the university for about $6,000.

[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: ]


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