The clearest path to college credit for massive open online courses may soon be through credit recommendations from the American Council of Education (ACE), which announced Tuesday that it will work with Coursera to determine whether as many as 8-10 MOOCs should be worth credit. The council is also working on a similar arrangement with EdX, a MOOC-provider created by elite universities.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding that effort as part of $3 million in new, wide-reaching MOOC-related grants, including research projects to be led by ACE, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Ithaka S+R, a research group that will team up with the University System of Maryland to test and study the use of massive open online courses across the system. (See related article on the latter effort here.)
Until now, MOOCs have been a source of fascination mostly because they make teaching by top-notch professors at prestigious universities free and available on the Internet to students anywhere, including in developing countries. Most MOOCs from high-profile providers such as Coursera, EdX, Udacity and Udemy feature upper-division material aimed at students looking to hone their skills or who are merely curious.