MOOC certification?

Sure, you read the books, watched the video lectures, answered to quizzes, completed the exams, and even did some of the “additional readings”.  But can you prove it?

edX and Coursera have begun to offer varieties of “certificates” upon completion of their courses.  Each offers some evidence that you have consumed and digested the course material, but some courses offer different levels of “certification.”

edX courses offer an “honor code certificate of achievement,” a “verified certificate of achievement,” and an “XSeries certificate of achievement.”   The honor code certificate says you completed the course, but without verifying your identity.  The certificate includes a URL at which employers or others can check on the validity of this certificate.  A verified certificate includes a small fee, continuing proof of identity from a photo ID and your web cam, and an authenticating URL.  An XSeries certificate is earned upon the completion of two or more verified courses:  for example, MITx offers a two-course astrophysics series and a seven-course computer science series.  The total cost of these ($275 and $425, respectively) is less than what you would expect to pay just for books.

Coursera offers similar tiers:  a “statement of accomplishment” and a “verified certificate” via “signature track.”

In general, though, what these do not offer is college credit.  And in fact, you may not even get any certificate of completion.  I recently completed edX’s “Scientific Humanities” from France’s Sciences Po, and was told that in fact no, students would receive no acknowledgement of completion etc.

Sometimes education really is its own reward.

What’s up with MOOCs?

Online learning at American University and elsewhere tries to replicate the small-class experience of classroom-based courses: intense student-faculty interaction, student-to-student learning, and a community for discussion.  But in other places, the focus in the last couple of years has been on MOOCs – massive open online courses:  thousands of students, open admissions, no tuition, and no academic credit.  Here’s some recent MOOC news.

Study Finds MOOC Reality Not Yet Meeting High Expectations

Columbia University researchers conclude that from the educational and the business perspectives, MOOCs stll have a long way to go before they are fundamentally change the cores of higher education.  A summary and the entire report.

Another report concluded that so far MOOCs are “more like health clubs than hospitals” – a summary and the report.

In Defense of Teacher Learning

A blog from the global business school INSEAD notes the importance, but lack of discussion, of instructors reconsidering their courses when preparing them as MOOCs.  The new platform forces teachers to reconsider content choices, assignments, and assessments in ways that spill over into reconsidering their classroom-based courses.

Andrew Ng joins China’s Baidu

A Coursera co-founder, with roots at Google and Stanford will become chief scientist at Baidu, the Chinese Internet company with $1.5 in 2014 Q1 revenue.

MOOCs Go Global

From Jordan, Queen Raina’s Foundation for Education and Development will work to increase the number of Arabic MOOCs available for the benefit of Arabic students and scholars with a partnership with edX, called Edraak.  MOOCs are also being offered from Asia and elsewhere.

MOOCs – Not Just for Universities

Forbes notes that while MOOCs pose challenges and opportunities for universities, businesses like SAP and Sky News are also using the ideas that shape MOOCs for their own business purposes.

MOOCs on Everything – Including, Now, SABRmetrics

“An introduction to sabrmetrics, baseball analytics, data science, the R language, and SQL.”  From Boston University via edX.  Begins next week….