Soon, students at Antioch University will be able to take some of the courses available from for-profit education provider Coursera for college credit towards graduation. Last week, the University and Coursera announced a partnership that will make Coursera's catalog of classes from some of the top colleges in the country open to Antioch students at a price substantially below that charged by the school for its traditional classes.
Over thirty universities provide massive online open courses (MOOCs) through Coursera's platform and website, but this deal with Antioch is unique for the company. Coursera, along with other MOOC companies like Udacity and the edX partnership, have previously offered courses credit-free. This would be the first time that an accredited U.S. college will grant credit for a MOOC. In exchange for using Coursera's platform, Antioch will pay an unspecified fee to the company.
"Our hope is that this is a usage model that Antioch was the first to embrace, but that we're going to see at other academic institutions over the course of the coming year," says Daphne Koller, cofounder of Coursera. "This is a very high-quality curriculum that our partner universities have put together, and it offers up opportunities for academic institutions to provide a much better education to their own students."
Before the partnership was formalized, Antioch allowed a limited number of student to try out two Coursera classes – Modern and Contemporary American Poetry and Greek and Roman Mythology – and receive college credit for completing them. In order to make sure that students completed their course work, their progress was overseen by an Antioch faculty member who also enrolled in the course. After the pilot program proved a success, Antioch moved to formalize its relationship with the company.
While Antioch benefits from the deal by adding "high-quality programs from established institutions" to their course offerings, students are, in return, attaining a knowledge base that could also result in college credit, notes Tex Boggs, president of Antioch University—Los Angeles.
"With Coursera, [students] have a learning experience but they do not receive credit," Boggs says. "If a student does not have the time, there's the tendency of dropping out and there's no penalty. Now, they're making a commitment and they are earning credit [through Antioch]. They are receiving a reward at the end along with the learning experience."
Starting this winter, students at Antioch's Los Angeles campus will be able to choose one of three additional Coursera courses for credit. Once the pilot program is completed in 2013, the university plans to offer Coursera classes for college credit on all five of its campuses.