Starting Point                                                 Page 6


The Online Advance  

I’ve been watching with interest the fast-moving developments in higher education to bring online courses to the masses — especially the attempts of course providers to grant academic credit.

So far, the most elite universities whose professors are teaching these massive open online courses, known as MOOCs, are reluctant to award full credit to students. Duke and Penn have stated they won’t give credit to individuals completing online courses taught by their own faculty. Officials at these institutions minimize the likelihood of someone attaining a degree by cobbling together free Web classes.

In a parallel vein, public school leaders are adopting a healthy skepticism of rapidly expanding online course options at the K-12 level. As our coverage describes, some districts have begun to create and operate their own online courses to ensure high-quality instruction and accountability for outcomes, and others are investing heavily in blended approaches, where students complete a mix of their studies in online and face-to-face settings.

The major MOOC providers, notably Coursera, Udacity and edX, are working on authentication tools to assess performance of the hundreds or thousands of students who are enrolling in these courses. K-12 leaders would do well to keep an eye on that progression. 

Jay P. Goldman, Editor
Voice: 703-875-0745
E-mail: jgoldman@aasa.org


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