Search site matches students with online courses

“There are so many kids graduating these days who are smart and really computer savvy, but don’t really have any skills that translate on Day One,” he said. “So many people spend $100,000 on a college education and don’t have much to show on the first day of work. That’s unfortunate.”

SkilledUp is paid by the site that offers an online course, if and when the student signs up to take the course through a search on the SkilledUp website.

Free and low-cost courses offered by websites like Coursera and Udacity have moved closer to higher education’s mainstream since a group of major universities announced in July that they would soon offer MOOCs, although most universities would not offer course credit.

The University of Washington, however, will offer credit upon completion of some Coursera classes.

UW officials, since the school’s Coursera partnership was announced July 17, have touted the university’s decision to offer course credit, while other schools will give certificates to people who complete their Cousera classes.

UW’s credit-bearing Coursera offerings – expected to be available during the 2012-13 academic year — will include applied mathematics program in scientific computing computer science courses, some focusing on programming. UW currently offers 17 online graduate master’s degrees online, along with 38 online certificate programs in a laundry list of career fields.

But before the school’s Coursera course selections are mistaken for free college classes, UW administrators want online learners to know that taking the credit-bearing classes does not lead to admittance.

David Szatmary, vice provost of UW’s educational outreach, said UW is making its course content available for credit on Coursera because campus decision makers and professors are comfortable with the shift toward web-based learning, and don’t see MOOCs as a usurper of higher education’s status quo.

“If an anxiety exists, it’s because it’s new and it’s untested and all of the elements and possibilities haven’t come out yet,” Szatmary said of Courera and similar MOOC sites, like edX and the Khan Academy. “It’s just anxiety over something that’s new and unfamiliar. And as these MOOCs go forward, I think they will be part of the higher education landscape, but it’s not going to replace undergraduate education or a master’s degree education.”