Thursday, May 23, 2013

MOOC accreditation

“MOOC” stands for massive open online courses and just last year the New York Times named 2012 “the year of the MOOC.” Additionally, several of the nation’s most prestigious schools have partnered with nonprofit educational organizations such as edX and Coursera to offer free online classes. Consequently, many people view free MOOCs as a way to provide an Ivy League education to those who either will not or cannot otherwise pay the costs of receiving an education at schools like Harvard and Yale.

However, one criticism and drawback of MOOCs is that they are not accredited. Consider, the Khan Academy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to change “education for the better by providing a free-world class education for anyone anywhere.” The Khan Academy has around 6 million regular monthly users, and about 4,000 other people utilize the organization’s online tutorials. While the Khan Academy offers Ivy League quality courses, people who take the time to study the material and do the work often have trouble finding a market for their newly acquired skills.

If organizations like the Khan Academy eventually do receive accreditation, what impact if any, will their accreditation have on the nonprofit schools within the traditional education system? Should accreditation have an impact on the nonprofit status currently conferred to MOOCs?


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