Online Learning

Rice Joins International Credit for MOOCs Program

Rice University and 10 other institutions in Europe, Asia and Australia have agreed to be part of a three-year "Credits for MOOCs" program that allows students from the participating schools to enroll in specific free online courses from the other member schools and receive transfer credits for passing them. When it's fully up and running, the pilot effort will feature from three to 10 credit-bearing online classes from each institution for the "virtual exchange."

The program, which is in its second semester for the 2017-2018 academic year, currently features 18 courses. While Rice isn't represented yet, Delft University of Technology has six courses, all hosted through the edX MOOC platform. Rice will kick off its participation by offering some of its summer online courses as part of the catalog.

In interview with Class-Central, Willem van Valkenburg, Delft's manager of production and delivery for open, online and blended courses, said about 100 Delft students have participated in the program so far and received a final grade in the virtual exchange. The most popular courses: data analysis, offered by Delft; creative problem solving, also offered by Delft; astrophysics, delivered by Australian National University; and English grammar and style, offered by the University of Queensland. Van Valkenburg told reporter Laurie Pickard that while the initial phase tapped courses by instructors "willing to participate in the programme," the next stage will use course mapping to develop a "broader" and more "attractive" portfolio for students.

The idea is for the participating universities to be able to expand course offerings to students in particular areas and provide them with unique international transfer credit opportunities. Students will be able to take classes overseas without having to physically relocate for a whole semester. At the same time, international students will be exposed to the institution's "outstanding faculty," noted Adria Baker, associate vice provost for international education and executive director of Rice's Office of International Students & Scholars, in a press release.

"I'm particularly excited about the possibilities for Rice students," added Rice Registrar David Tenney. "While being enrolled full-time at Rice, our students will have available to them a slate of online for-credit courses from respected international universities that are taught in English and can be taken in addition to their required course load."

Participants will be expected to take all the exams and do all the assignments required of students taking the traditional course at the university. That's an important aspect, said Anka Mulder, vice president for education and operations at Delft. "In order to consider integrating an online course from a different university into its own regular study program, each institution must trust that the course is of high quality and produced by a reliable partner they know and have worked with before."

When the pilot program ends in 2020, Rice officials said they'd review the data to "assess the demand for the courses and how students responded to and benefited from them."

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 or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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