April 24

A Fresh (and Free-ish) Take on Being a Freshman

By Paul Keyworth

Pioneer in online education, Arizona State University (ASU), rocked the boat last week by launching its own version of a massive open online course (MOOC) — a new freshman entry model.  That’s right; around the globe, learners will be able to complete a full freshman year of courses entirely online.  ASU plans to roll out a dozen or so courses covering the whole gamut of disciplines in what they are calling the “Global Freshman Academy” (Byrne, 2015).

As with other MOOCs, the courses are free to take; however, to earn college credit, students will need to pay $200 per credit.  The idea is that they will be able to use this college credit to continue their undergraduate studies at either ASU or another university campus that recognizes and accepts the transfer of these credits.

Of course, students will not need to pay if they fail or withdraw from the course. This represents a far cheaper (potentially less than one tenth of the cost) and more risk-free alternative to physically going to college.  Moreover, SATs and high school transcripts will not be required to gain entry to the courses.

Traditionally, MOOCs have attracted learners who already hold college degrees. In what are already stormy waters for higher education, this latest initiative is sure to stir up controversy and raise accreditation issues.

Read the following articles for more details:

Arizona State U ‘MOOCs for credit program faces unanswered accreditation questions [Inside Higher Ed]

MOOCs for a Year’s Credit [Inside Higher Ed]

Arizona State, edX to offer entire freshman year of college online [Fortune]

Global Freshman Academy: Creating Access and Overcoming Early MOOC Setbacks [The EvoLLLution]