In a largely unprecedented move, numerous major public universities have announced plans to offer free introductory online courses—with credit.
As the Times article explains, the schools will select which courses to convert into an online format and students who successfully complete those courses will earn credit toward a real degree:
“‘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.”
Schools involved in the bold move include the University of Cincinnati, the University of Texas, and the University of Arkansas.
The hope, of course, is to draw more students into public school systems facing budgetary problems due to state funding cuts; Masters and Bachelors programs will be offered.
The move represents an interesting, and increasingly strong, synergy between the world of MOOCs and brick-and-mortar schools, and shows that the relationship doesn’t need to be antagonistic.