Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Credit for MOOCs from Australian, North American and European Universities

Grove (2016) reports that a consortium of the Australian National University, University of Queensland, University of British Columbia, Boston University and Delft University of Technology, are setting up a credit transfer system for MOOCs. All are members of the edX consortium and offer a small number of low cost on-line courses. Students who undertook a MOOC through one institution would be able to gain credit at any of the others.

What is interesting about this proposal is that the MOOCs are generally not integrated into the degree programs of the institutions offering them. Not only do the universities need to set up a system to recognize each others MOOCs, but their own. Also each institution only offers a small number of courses, which are usually a short part (typically 4 to 8 weeks) of an existing introductory course.

UQx Design Methodology for Course Development
MOOCs are currently used as a marketing tool by universities to give potential students a taster of a topic, not provide them with a complete educational program. Some of these universities also offer full on-line courses as part of degree programs, but those courses are not part of the edX system, are charged at a higher rate, delivered using different software and part of the same quality control system as face-to-face courses. The University of Queensland has a UQx Design Methodology for Course Development.

If this scheme follows the pattern set by other MOOC recognition schemes, it will not be free and will cost about the same as existing e-learning. Coursera offer "Specialization Certificates", where the student does a series of MOOCs, then a capstone project and receives a university certificate. An example is the University of California, Irvine's Virtual Teacher Program. The student undertakes four courses and a final capstone. The courses are each 2 to 4 hours a week over five weeks. Each course and the capstone is US$66, for a total of US$333.

That may sound cheap, but it is about the same cost as an on-line Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40110) offered by more than seven hundred Australian Registered Training Organizations (RTO). The RTOs are part of the Australian Higher Education system and as well as offering vocational courses (for plumbers and electricians) they also offer introductory programs for those wanting to go on to university. The MOOC consortia seem to want to reproduce this system, without acknowledging its existence.


Grove, J. (2016, January 4). Moocs: international credit transfer system edges closer. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from

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