The new industry of large-scale online education will garner an important measure of academic respectability Thursday when the American Council on Education announces that four courses of the Mountain View, Calif.-based Coursera organization are worthy of college credit — if anti-cheating measures are enforced.
It is now up to colleges and universities to decide whether to allow their students to replace traditional courses taught in classrooms with low-cost online courses that enroll many thousands of students worldwide and involve little direct interaction with instructors.
Yet the news that that the four courses, including a pre-calculus class from UC Irvine, passed ACE muster is viewed as a reputation and financial boost for the emerging industry of massive open online courses, or MOOCs as they are known, offered by Coursera and others.
Coursera is a for-profit clearinghouse for online and videotaped courses developed and taught by professors at well-established colleges.
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