As an American Council on Education (ACE) CREDIT reviewer, I had the unique privilege of being on the team that reviewed the first MOOC (massive open online course). The experience was unique due to the course delivery.
In the end, the process was the same used in every other review for ACE.
Accreditation has been a persistent issue in the MOOC debate.
I’m often asked about the process and how the review was done. Most of the time the person asking is really wanting to know how a faculty member can be confident in the recommendation. The answer, I believe, is in the process.
The faculty review team was led by a national coordinator with extensive experience in teaching and evaluation and consisted of faculty current in the academic discipline under review.
We all had extensive experience in reviewing online courses and in essence, this was a review of an online course – with obvious differences. More on that later.
What happens in a review?
For all ACE reviews, we consider student learning outcomes, the intensity of the course, pre- and post-course assignments, qualifications of faculty, and academic and work-related experience of the participants.
Reviewers work together to review the content, scope, and rigor of the course including: course syllabi, textbooks, assessment methods, student and instructor guides, student projects, instructional materials, and instructor qualifications to name just a few.
One thing we keep central in our focus is that we have the charge to consider recommendations based not on our institution, locale, or region but to critically appraise materials from a national/professional perspective.
It’s not our job to review a program based on what we do at our local campus, but instead to review each course in light of the ACE guidelines and best practices. It is not an easy thing to do, but that’s where having a team and coordinator is vital.
How did MOOCs differ from other courses?
So what was different about the MOOC? Not that much. The course was reviewed using the ACE review criteria, no special considerations were given – the courses had to meet the requirements for content, scope, and rigor.
A credit recommendation was given because the team determined that the course met the requirements.