(Phys.org)—A novel way to entice prospective students to enroll in a university degree program has been announced by a company called Academic Partnerships – let participants take a limited number of online courses that count as real credits, for free. The program is a partnership between nine accredited universities in the United States, and a company that assists universities in creating online course content.
In recent years, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become a popular means for colleges to earn income and for students to learn what they hope will be valuable skills. They're called massive because they are not capped by numbers – class sizes can vary from just a few students to thousands, which translates to far less one-to-one interaction with instructors, or each other. For that reason, very few MOOCs count towards a degree. That might be about to change, however, as more schools become involved with programs such as MOOC2Degree. The concept is simple, set up online courses that any student anywhere can take online, and then give those participants credit towards a degree if they subsequently enroll as an actual student after successfully completing the course. Academic Partnerships told reporters via phone interview that trial runs of the program have seen 72 to 84 percent of students that complete courses successfully enroll as regular students.
The program seeks to offer incentives to both universities and students. Schools can bump up their enrollment with students that have proven they can succeed, boosting their bottom line, while prospective students can test the waters, so to speak, to see if they might be likely to succeed in a degree program, without risking any money. Academic Partnerships said that thus far, most participating schools are lining up courses as part of development programs, which would lead to degrees such as a Master's in Education or a Bachelor's in Nursing, though one, the University of Cincinnati is planning to start with a course that can be applied to a degree in engineering or business. They add that many other schools have also expressed interest in joining the program.
Universities across the country have been looking for ways to increase revenue as funds given to them by state governments have fallen due to budget constraints. Meanwhile, as people have found themselves laid off during the recession, many have turned to institutions of higher learning to help them find a job. Programs such as MOOC2Degree might just be the answer for both.
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