Umbrella Group Backs Unbundling

Career College Central Summary:

  • In recent years the American Council on Education has experimented with issuing credit recommendations for online courses from non-college providers, sometimes sounding more like Silicon Valley than One Dupont — the stodgy headquarters of the higher education lobby.
  • Those tests appear to have fizzled, as few students pursued college credits for MOOCs. So the council is trying a different approach. On Wednesday it announced the creation of a pool of about 100 online courses that will lead to credit recommendations.
  • The courses will be low-cost or free. They will be general education and lower-division, ranging across up to 30 subject areas. And the pool will not include a full curriculum for a bachelor’s degree.
  • The council, which is higher education's umbrella group, plans to partner with about 50 institutions that will agree to issue credit for the course recommendations.
  • The idea is for students to be able to enroll in those colleges with up to two years of transfer credits from the pool of courses under their belts.ACE said the project is aimed at the 31 million Americans with some college credits but no degree.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the work with a $1.86 million grant.
  • “This really will support the degree-completion programs at institutions,” said Cathy Sandeen, ACE’s vice president for education attainment and innovation.
  • Among that group, the council has had preliminary conversations with StraighterLine and the Saylor Academy, Sandeen said. MOOC providers might be part of the mix.
  • But she said they would likely be of the on-demand variety, rather than MOOCs that are on a set schedule. She cited a few Coursera offerings from the University of California at Irvine as possibilities.

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