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Low-Cost MOOC To Grant 3 Credits at Tiffin U

A school-vendor partnership will be testing out a new twist on the MOOC: offering a three-credit course in social sciences for $50, considerably less than the course costs through the university.

Starting in July, Tiffin University, a 7,000-student institution in Tiffin, OH, and Altius Education, which describes itself as "part university, part technology company," will be teaming up to deliver "Foundations of Success." The course is being offered through Ivy Bridge College, Tiffin's associate program that allows students to attend in person or online and transfer their earned credits to four-year schools with transfer agreements. The standard tuition per credit at Tiffin, $690, is considerably more than the MOOC fee.

The course, intended to help students learn techniques for being successful, will be delivered through Altius' new online learning platform, Helix. Unlike typical massive open online courses where the instruction is provided via video, much of the interaction occurs not directly with the instructor but among students and teaching assistants, and assignment grading is often automated, this one will actually be delivered in live sessions with faculty member Steven Borawski, who will grade student work and provide feedback on discussions and assignments. Students who pass the course will receive a letter grade and can request transcripts from Tiffin.

All that will be different between the MOOC version and tradition version is that students in the MOOC won't be able to get the same form of free tutoring or college mentoring offered by Ivy Bridge; however, they will be able to post questions and concerns in the Helix forum for feedback from other students and the instructor.

"So many of our students have told us how this particular course has had such a positive impact on them, and not just in the context of their college education but throughout their lives," said Tiffin President Paul Marion. "We want to make this course available to more people, who can benefit from its instruction. Since Altius has a learning platform that allows us to roll out innovative courses like this quickly and at scale, this course can be offered for a $50 administration fee."

Helix provides functionality to adapt content for individual students and personalize course lessons. Institutions can turn features on or off depending on where they are in the platform adoption process.

The MOOC edition of Foundations of Success starts July 1, 2013. People can register at the Ivy Bridge site, ivybridge.tiffin.edu/mooc.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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