Certificates as transfer credits
In this post I want to consider whether MOOC certificates are likely to enter into degree pathways – that is, whether colleges and universities are likely, anytime soon, to accept MOOC certificates as transferable credits in their degree pathways.
It will be remembered that by the end of 2012 the American Council on Education, the body responsible for determining the credit-worthiness of college courses, had, as noted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, begun to evaluate some MOOCs as credit-worthy.
The Chronicle quite rightly proclaimed this as a major step – it signaled that colleges and universities failing to recognize MOOC-based learning could not base their rejection on grounds of academic quality.
But to date, few academic institutions have been willing to grant transfer credit for MOOC certificates. And it is not hard to see why. These organizations have become increasingly dependent on tuition dollars for their daily operations.
They are naturally reluctant to accept MOOC-based credits into their degree pathways if in doing so they have to forego tuition revenues. If their degrees require, let us say, 120 credits, at an average cost per credit of perhaps $700, plus fees, then transferring in a MOOC in lieu of a four-credit course would cost almost $3,000. Accepting up to four such transfer courses would cost up to $12,000 per student.
If a significant fraction of their students were able to avoid these tuition costs, the organization would be financially strained if not bankrupted.