A proposed “New University of California” would award credits to students who pass exams proving mastery, regardless of whether they learned the material in class, online, at work or whatever, reports KQED.
Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, proposed AB 1306 to expand access to college degrees. New University would not offer classes, hire professors or charge tuition, but would be empowered to grant degrees if a student qualified for enough academic credit in a course of study. Students would pay a fee to take an exam.
California’s community colleges already offer course credit by exam, said an official in the chancellor’s office.
Wilk’s idea would “cheapen” state university degrees, responds Eric Grunder, opinion editor of the Stockton Record.
. . . before we set a whole new “university,” let’s better fund the community colleges, CSU and UC systems we have, including opening more seats and helping students pay to sit in them.”
College will be “better and drastically cheaper” in the near future as higher education is “unbundled,” argues Vance Fried in College 2020. ”Online 2.0 takes today’s version of online education to another level by making the whole curriculum competency-based and using self-paced courses that eliminate the need for a course instructor,” Fried writes.
Western Governors University, which offers low-cost competency-based degrees, is the first step, he writes. Southern New Hampshire University also is launching an affordable Online 2.0 degree.
Online learning will revolutionize higher education and liberate students from ever-rising college costs, predicts Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, in an interview with MIT Technology Review.
Here’s what I think it could look like in five years: the learning side will be free, but if and when you want to prove what you know, and get a credential, you would go to a proctoring center [for an exam]. And that would cost something. Let’s say it costs $100 to administer that exam. I could see charging $150 for it. And then you have a $50 margin that you can reinvest on the free-learning side.
What’s a credit worth? Moves to give credits to students for taking massive open online courses (MOOCS) or demonstrating competency are threatening the college cartel, writes Jeff Selingo on The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The American Council on Education will review some free online courses offered by elite universities through Coursera and may recommend that other colleges accept credit for them.
Right now, it is easy for most institutions to deny students who ask to transfer credits from their local community college or a for-profit provider, such as StraighterLine. They just say the quality is not up their standards.
But what happens when students arrive at the registrars’ office with credit-bearing courses from professors at Stanford, Penn, and Princeton? What will the excuse be then to reject the credits—that the courses were free? Such an excuse might finally expose the true reason many colleges refuse to accept transfer credits: They want students to pay them tuition for a class, not another institution.
In addition, Southern New Hampshire University’s accreditor has approved its new competency-based associate degree, which is based on students’ knowledge rather than time in class. Students will pay no more than $2,500 a year. The university is working with local employers to design the curriculum.
Western Governors University pioneered the idea. Now, “Southern New Hampshire is about to show whether the idea can work within the walls of a traditional university,” Selingo writes. Northern Arizona University and the University of Wisconsin system also are developing competency-based degrees.
UW’s Flexible Option will let adult students “earn college credit by demonstrating knowledge they have acquired through coursework, military training, on-the-job training, and other learning experiences.”