Massive open online courses (MOOCs), such as those provided by Coursera, Udacity, and edX, have risen in popularity in the past year by offering thousands of students courses from top-ranked colleges and universities at no cost to the user. The selling point for students had been an increased knowledge base and a certificate of completion.
Now, due to a licensing deal between Coursera, a for-profit online education provider, and Antioch University, Antioch students will be able to take certain Coursera offerings for college credit, at a cost less than a traditional, per-credit-hour course.
"Through this new partnership, Antioch University and the Antioch University—Los Angeles campus can reduce student costs to complete a four-year degree and expand course offerings through free online courses offered by the highly respected universities that have partnered with Coursera," noted an Antioch press release announcing the deal.
Coursera, which has partnered with 33 universities thus far to provide free courses on its platform, enters new territory in this deal with Antioch—which becomes the first partner institution to provide Coursera courses for college credit. In this licensing deal, Antioch will pay Coursera an unspecified sum in return for the ability to use several courses delivered through the platform.
"Our hope is that this is a usage model that Antioch was the first to embrace, but that we're going to see at other academic institutions over the course of the coming year," says Daphne Koller, cofounder of Coursera. "This is a very high-quality curriculum that our partner universities have put together, and it offers up opportunities for academic institutions to provide a much better education to their own students."
In early October, Antioch University—Los Angeles launched a pilot program where students could enroll in one of two Coursera courses for credit—Modern and Contemporary American Poetry and Greek and Roman Mythology—developed by the University of Pennsylvania. In this pilot, Antioch is testing a course where a faculty member enrolls with his or her students and oversees progress and also interacts with students in a Coursera-created discussion group.
"I think there is a lot of value to be gained if you have the opportunity to have your interactions facilitated by an instructor who is an expert in the field and capable of answering questions," Koller adds.
[Learn why interest in online courses could be peaking.]
While Antioch benefits from the deal by adding "high-quality programs from established institutions" to their course offerings, students are, in return, attaining a knowledge base that could also result in college credit, notes Tex Boggs, president of Antioch University—Los Angeles.
"With Coursera, [students] have a learning experience but they do not receive credit," Boggs says. "If a student does not have the time, there's the tendency of dropping out and there's no penalty. Now, they're making a commitment and they are earning credit [through Antioch]. They are receiving a reward at the end along with the learning experience."
Antioch—Los Angeles plans to offer three more pilot courses in the winter before expanding to all five Antioch campuses in 2013. "We'll be working with Coursera to expand the offerings," Boggs adds. "We intend to move forward quickly because of the high level of interest."
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