Distance Learning

Refugees Offered MOOCs for Credit

Refugees will have access to college courses — and college credit — as part of a new agreement between edX and Kiron, a crowd-funded university in Germany formed for the express purpose of helping refugees earn their degrees.

Under the arrangement Kiron will add 300 edX courses to its learning platform, and edX will issue free verified certificates for specific courses that can translate to college credit with Kiron's university campus partners.

The UN Refugee Agency estimated that the number of refugees — people have who have been forcibly displaced from their homes — numbered 59.5 million in 2015. More than half of those (51 percent) were under 18 years old. The newest top source for refugees is Syria.

In the new program, participants will be able to complete a slate of online courses and then be given a chance to complete their studies on partner college campuses. Currently, those partners are primarily made up of universities of applied science located in Germany, including RWTH Aachen University, Heilbronn University and the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences, among 11 other institutions. Kiron expected some schools based in the United States to join the initiative in coming months.

"Education is the key to integration," said Vincent Zimmer, co-founder of Kiron. He noted that the edX project "will offer an incredible number of displaced people new perspectives; the hope is to get them jobs that will change the trajectory of their lives for the better."

"It has always been edX's mission to bring the world's best courses to anyone with a desire to learn — especially those who might not otherwise have the opportunity," added Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX and MIT professor. "Together, we're able to directly offer life-changing learning opportunities for those most in need."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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