By Stuart M. Butler
In late April Arizona State University (ASU), in partnership with edX – the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider launched in 2012 by Harvard and MIT – announced it will offer MOOCs for credit this Fall. The cost for each course will be no more than $200 per credit hour or less than half the amount ASU charges for its regular online or in-person courses. If a student is not concerned about getting credit, the courses, like most MOOCs, will be free.
Called the Global Freshman Academy, this is another important step in the revolution that is engulfing higher education. Recently Google and MOOC pioneer Coursera announced “microdegrees”, a set of online courses and a hands-on project that will essentially be the core of a low-cost degree major that will be accepted by top employers. Now ASU and edX is aiming at the package of general course requirements, enabling students to assemble an accredited set of mainly first-year classes to use at ASU or to gain credits that they can transfer to another college or university.
The Global Freshman Academy is a boon to students and an existential threat to traditional state and private universities. Here’s why:
- The credit for these MOOC courses will be indistinguishable from traditional courses – except for the price. ASU not only will accredit the courses but also will not specify in course transcripts which type of course the student enrolled in – in-person or MOOC. By piggybacking on the regular credit hour system in this way, these low-cost transferable courses will add to the “unbundling” of higher education by making it harder for colleges to charge hefty prices for heavily enrolled first year classes to cross-subsidize expensive upper-level courses.
[ Full article available at Brookings.edu: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/techtank/posts/2015/05/4-asu-moocs-butler ]