Public Universities to Offer Free Online Classes for Credit

Public Universities to Offer Free Online Classes for Credit

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nytimes.com offers Public Universities to Offer Free Online Classes for Credit for News.
"In an unusual arrangement with a commercial company, dozens of public universities plan to offer an introductory online course free and for credit to anyone worldwide, in the hope that those who pass will pay tuition to complete a degree program.

The universities — including Arizona State, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Arkansas system — will choose which of their existing online courses to convert to a massive open online course, or MOOC, in the new program, called MOOC2Degree.
The proliferation of free online courses from top universities like Harvard and Stanford over the past year has prompted great interest in online learning. But those courses, so far, have generally not carried credit.

“We’re taking the MOOC idea, but now it will be part of a degree program, not a novelty,” said Randy Best, the chairman of Academic Partnerships, a company that helps public universities move their courses online.

If MOOC2Degree succeeds in attracting thousands of degree students, the new revenue stream could be a lifeline for public universities hit hard by declining financial support from states.

Under the arrangement, Academic Partnerships will handle recruitment for MOOC2Degree and will receive an undisclosed share of the tuition the universities get from students who continue into a degree program.

“It’s a bold strategy on the part of the institutions,” said Michael Tanner, vice president for academic affairs at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. “In some sense, it’s a new recruitment strategy: give them a free sample, and maybe they’ll find they have an appetite for it. It’s hard to say how well it will work. The MOOC business will become crowded over time.”..."

The following universities are some of the early participants in Academic Partnerships' MOOC2Degree initiative. Students who successfully complete a MOOC2Degree course earn academic credits toward a degree, based upon criteria established by participating universities. Additional university partners are joining the initiative in the months ahead as they work through the processes of providing MOOCs. Specific MOOC course listings will be coming soon.
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