In two apparently unrelated announcements, both MIT and Wharton announced they were moving beyond just courses and putting significant parts of their curriculum into MOOC platforms, both with identity verification. MIT is putting several undergraduate sequences online through MITx (their implementation of edX), while Wharton business school is putting a “foundation series” of first-year courses online through Coursera.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will this fall package some of its online courses into more cohesive sequences, just as edX prepares to roll out certificates of completion using identity verification. Seen together, the two announcements may provide a glimpse at what the future holds for the massive open online course provider.
The “XSeries” sequences add a new layer of structure to MITx, the institution’s section of the edX platform. The first of seven courses in the Foundations of Computer Science XSeries will be offered this fall, with one or more new courses being rolled out each semester until the fall of 2015. The Supply Chain Management XSeries, consisting of three courses, will begin in the fall of 2014. The two sequences will target undergraduates and working professionals, respectively. [snip]
EdX allows students either to audit courses or complete assignments to earn a certificate of completion. Right now, the gateway to earning a certificate is guarded only by an honor code. Beginning next spring, instructors can choose to implement an identity verification process that prompts students to present government-issued identification at specific milestones, like a midterm or final exam. Their identities are then verified by Software Secure, which offers online proctoring services.
Apart from the security benefits, edX officials said the verified certificates are intended for students who enroll in online courses to further their careers.
And the parallel Wharton news from Bloomberg Businessweek:
Getting a Wharton MBA involves taking off from work for two years, moving to Philadelphia, and spending about $200,000 on tuition and expenses. Now, with the addition of three new courses on the online learning platform Coursera, you can get much of the course content for free.
While you won’t get the full Wharton on-campus experience—or an internship, career services, or alumni network, for that matter—the new courses in financial accounting, marketing, and corporate finance duplicate much of what you would learn during your first year at the elite business school, says Don Huesman, managing director of the innovation group at Wharton.
A fourth course in operations management that’s been offered since September rounds out the “foundation series.” Along with five existing electives, which include courses on sports business and health care, the new offerings make it possible to learn much of what students in Wharton’s full-time MBA program learn, and from the same professors. All nine courses are massive open online courses, or MOOCs, expected to attract students from around the world. [snip]
Students in all four courses are eligible, for a $49 fee, to receive a verified electronic certificate indicating that they’ve completed the course requirements.
Huesman says Wharton has no plans to accept the certificates for course credit should students subsequently enroll at Wharton, adding that “there’s a very different experience that happens in a two-year immersion in a community of scholars that culminates in a degree.” But he says what students learn in the online classes can be used to “test out” of required courses just as those with knowledge of the subject matter can do now.
In both cases the schools go out of their way to emphasize that the MOOC curricula do not replace the immersive experience of face-to-face courses, but that professors are experimenting with flipped classroom approaches using the MOOC materials.
Update: eCampusNews has an article on the MIT announcement, focusing on the usage of webcams for the identity verification.