Researchers still grapple with measuring quality in for-credit MOOCs

Dive Brief:

  • Two researchers have recently published a paper analyzing how massive open online courses stack up in the Quality Matters rubric, which was designed for traditional online courses, finding all of the MOOCs studied — two each from Coursera, edX, and Udacity — failed to meet the minimum standard for quality.
  • According to eCampus News, none of the courses performed well on Standard 7: Learner Support, which may not be a surprise as this standard speaks to acknowledgement of student support services, accessibility services, and course-level objectives that make more sense for credit-bearing courses, and MOOCs are only now starting to be offered for credit.
  • Researchers expect colleges that want to offer MOOCs for credit can add learner support elements to the courses and meet the Quality Matters bar, but they urge institutions to consider where MOOCs differ from other online courses more broadly as they grapple with the question of credit.

Dive Insight:

Massive open online courses form the foundation of Arizona State University’s Global Freshman Academy, which offers a full year of ASU courses online to anyone and doesn’t obligate them to pay for the option of credit until they know whether they will pass the course. MIT is piloting a MOOC-for-credit option of its own with the MicroMasters credential. Students can take the first half of a master’s program online via MOOCs and earn their degree following just one semester on campus.

The opportunities are considered ways to make degree programs more accessible for an increasingly nontraditional student body. Yet, in the Global Freshman Academy’s first year, less than 1% of students who signed up for the program, or 323 students, were eligible for college credit. The success rate could still grow, however, as the program becomes more established. 

Recommended Reading

eCampus News: What should MOOC quality standards look like?