Huffington Post reports,
It’s happening right now. We may even remember this week as the turning point. If there is one issue that is buzzing through Davos [the World Economic Forum Annual meeting] like a prairie fire among thoughtful people, it’s that the time has finally come to reinvent higher learning.
The big three companies that provide the technology of free online learning — Coursera, Udacity and edX — are all present at Davos, and are jubilant in and out of sessions. Coursera just announced it will soon be offering more than 200 free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, in conjunction with more than 33 universities. Having opened for business just five months ago, the company already has more than 1.3 million students.
In a new twist, some universities, such as Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas, have announced they want to develop a way to give students credit for the MOOCs they complete. And last week, San Jose State University and Udacity announced a pilot project to jointly create three introductory mathematics classes. The courses will be free online, but students who want credit from San Jose State will pay $150 per course — a small fraction of the price that students usually would pay. . . .
The biggest obstacle to this happening is the question of credentials. Aside from the couple of experiments I mentioned earlier, none of the prestigious universities will grant a course credit — let alone a degree — based on the strength of online courses.
But this will change. More and more universities will agree to issue credits for their MOOC courses. Then they might consider issuing a credit for a MOOC course taken at another university if the student agrees to an assessment process, such as exams or essays, which demonstrate the student has the requisite knowledge.
Private-sector third parties may step in. Just as private-sector companies can certify competence in Microsoft or Oracle software, other companies can certify competence in academic fields.
University leaders are finally waking up to the need to reinvent a pedagogic model that is centuries old. And this week may be remembered as the turning point.