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Udacity's Credit Path

January 16, 2013

Udacity had a busy Tuesday. The MOOC provider announced two partnerships that could lead to college credit for versions of its courses.

The American Council on Education (ACE) said it would evaluate four Udacity courses, all of which are entry-level, for credit recommendations. And San Jose State University announced a deal to jointly offer three $150 courses with Udacity, in a trial run enrolling 300 students. (See accompanying story.)

The arrangement with ACE is similar to one struck in November with Coursera, which, like Udacity, is a for-profit MOOC provider. The council is also reviewing several Coursera courses for potential credit recommendations.

The primary umbrella group for higher education, ACE has for decades been a leader in determining whether military or corporate training programs should be worthy of college credit. Teams of faculty experts, who are on contract with ACE, assess whether college-level learning occurs in the training programs and issue credit recommendations based on those determinations.

Students can qualify for credit recommendations from ACE if they complete the training or, presumably, MOOCs that make the grade in this initial batch of those being reviewed. Some, but not all, of the council’s 1,200 members accept its credit transcripts.

Three of the four Udacity courses ACE will evaluate are introductory math classes created at San Jose State. The fourth is Udacity’s introduction to computer science.

ACE is studying MOOCs, with a research project that will look at the demographics of students who take Udacity courses and attempt to identify “effective pedagogies and practices that can help students succeed when enrolled in MOOCs,” the council said in a written statement. It is also working with college leaders to consider the “disruptive” potential posed by MOOCs.

“As the postsecondary landscape continues to evolve, assessing where MOOCs may fit into that landscape for credit purposes is an important part of the national completion agenda,” said Cathy A. Sandeen, vice president of ACE’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation, in a written statement.

 

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