Assessing Campus MOOCs

The new agreement between Coursera and the American Council on Education (ACE) was not the only project unveiled on Tuesday that will aim to scrutinize the viability of massive open online courses (MOOCs) as part of a traditional college curriculum.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving Ithaka S+R, the nonprofit research group, $1.4 million to conduct a multicampus study of MOOCs as a deeply integrated instructional resource at an array of public universities in Maryland.

“Over the next 18 months, the University System of Maryland will serve as a test bed for various online or hybrid courses, including Coursera, edX, and possibly other MOOCs, in a variety of subject areas on different campuses,” wrote Debbie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation, in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.

“Ithaka S+R will monitor, assess, and document lessons learned from these implementations,” she continued. “Rigorous assessment of how students fared using these technologies will hopefully help reassure those concerned about educational quality, while documentation of obstacles encountered and overcome will help those struggling with implementation.”

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