Mainstreaming MOOCs

As the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

This week, public universities announced two different initiatives designed to use free, online, open-enrollment courses to drive students to more traditional credit pathways. The move attempts to position free, online courses as a complement to the traditional model of higher education, rather than a disruptive innovation that could undermine it.

“After any initial enthusiasm, a significant portion of students want to turn that into credit, and to do that they want to work with conventional partners,” said Richard Garrett, vice president and principal analyst for Eduventures. “It’s logical for schools in that business to push that.”

Georgia State University announced Tuesday that university faculty members would review courses offered on open, online platforms to see what types of credit the institution could award students who complete such courses. A day later a consortium of public universities announced that it would launch a new platform that will offer introductory classes of existing online degree programs in an open and free format, hoping to entice students to enroll in the full program.

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