A milestone towards wider acceptance of online learning was achieved when the American Council on Education (ACE) approved five courses taught by online learning center Coursera for accreditation by the Council. One of the toughest things new media academic institutions have had to face is getting recognized as “college level” as most established brick-and-mortar universities will not accept credits gained through online learning.
Although the ACE signature on these credits will not necessarily mean that universities will accept them, it is a big step forward as most public universities and private colleges consider the ACE stamp of approval to be a good reason to do so. The five Coursera courses accepted by ACE are:
- Introduction to Genetics and Evolution
- Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach
- Calculus: Single Variable
Coursera courses are taught by faculty at various universities rather than being an online university in the traditional sense of colleges. The pre-calculus and algebra courses above, for example, are from the University of Calfiornia at Irvine and the genetics and bioelectricity courses are from Duke University. Having such big credibility behind their course professors, of course, didn’t hurt Coursera’s chances of getting ACE approval.
Coursera is what education will likely look like in the next decade: a virtual campus made up of students and faculty from geographically disparate places all coming together in an online, virtual classroom and academic setting. Will paradigms like Coursera replace actual college campuses, dorm rooms, and frat parties? Probably not, but they’ll make higher education much more affordable and could make academic institutions primarily a place where graduate and post-graduate students congregate. They could largely replace community college campuses, saving millions of taxpayer dollars as well.