Widgets Magazine

Coursera exploring offering credit for online courses

Students taking online courses from universities on Coursera and seven to nine other massive open online course (MOOC) platforms may soon qualify for academic credit from those universities, for a small fee.

The American Council on Education (ACE), a higher education umbrella group, in conjunction with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced its intention to work with Coursera to determine the possibility of creating classes for credit on Tuesday.

Coursera courses would make use of webcam proctoring for exams to allow for credit, according to Andrew Ng, associate professor of computer science and Coursera co-creator.

“A webcam-based approach will make it easier for students anywhere to take tests for credit, without having to travel potentially unreasonable distances to an exam site,” Ng said to Forbes.

The Gates Foundation has already awarded the council $895,000 in grants to coordinate the discussions. To further prepare, ACE and MOOC representatives are collaborating on a “Presidential Innovation Lab” group to oversee the project, according to an Inside Higher Ed article.

“They will kick the tires. They will issue reports. They will see how this fits,” Molly Broad, president of ACE, said to Inside Higher Ed.

Ng stated in the same article that a normal statement of accomplishment would cost $30 to $100, while a proctored version would run between $150 and $250.

Revenue from student payments for these certifications would be divided between Coursera, the universities whose professors created the courses and ACE.

ACE is also currently working on a similar project with EdX, an online course platform jointly founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ileana Najarro

  • james

    Giving out credit is not a good idea. The downside is the ease for cheating in online courses when there are thousands of people taking the course. There is no way to verify the student is doing his own work or even that the person is who he presents himself to be.

    Webcam proctoring of exams won’t be effective because the proctor won’t have any way to recognize the thousands of faces he is looking at. If there was some computer technology for facial recognition using computer vision that could safeguard the integrity of the exam process, then online course credit might start to make sense. The other option is to denote on a student’s transcript the course was taken online and can not be used toward a Stanford degree.

  • Wilson

    James the webcam technologies require students to hold up a photo ID, the same as they do in a physical testing center. The proctor compares the photo ID to a picture taken via your camera. Also depending on which company you use for remote proctoring, some of them watch 1 person at a time taking an exam (or a recording of it), and others rely on 1 proctor to watch up to 16 screens at a time. I completely agree that 1 person watching many student is not a secure model.