A new business model for MOOCs: Gateway to degree programs

MOOC2Degree allows students to take free, open, for-credit courses so as to encourage them to enroll in college full-time.

Nine universities will pilot a new game-changing business model that offers students free access to massive open online courses (MOOCs) for credit in hopes of increasing college enrollment and accessibility.

The new model, called MOOC2Degree, is presented by Academic Partnerships, a Dallas-based firm that helps universities develop and market online courses.

“The concept is to make the first course in a degree program a MOOC—open, free, and for-credit,” said Randy Best, chairman and CEO of Academic Partnerships. “I think MOOC2Degree is a game-changer in that it applies to almost any university around the world. It gives them greater access to students, [and] the ability to observe [students’] academic performance—and [it enables] tens of thousands of working adults to try online learning risk-free to see if it fits them.”

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The nine universities set to pilot the MOOC2Degree program are Arizona State University, Lamar University, Florida International University, Cleveland State University, the University of Arkansas System, University of Cincinnati, University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, University of West Florida, and Utah State University. The program is set to launch this spring.

Best asserts that MOOC2Degree not only will increase global access to higher education, but also will help draw working adults to bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Academic Partnerships and the participating schools said they believe that, by offering students a single, free, for-credit course, universities will see a return on their investment via increased enrollment numbers.

(Next page: How MOOC2Degree is confronting the question of quality)

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