Students enrolled in a free open online course offered through edX will now have the option of getting their learning validated with a proctored final exam, under a new program announced today.
The nonprofit online-learning venture, founded by MIT and Harvard, will let students take on-site exams administered by the Pearson VUE service, which has more than 450 testing centers in more than 110 countries. Students who pass the tests will receive certificates noting that they completed a proctored exam.
Today’s news comes as academic integrity emerges as a hot topic in the movement to offer massive open online courses, known as MOOC’s. Dozens of incidents of plagiarism have been reported by students taking free courses through Coursera, a start-up company, as The Chronicle wrote last month. Another MOOC platform, Udacity, has also announced an arrangement to provide secure exams proctored by Pearson.
In a conference call with reporters, Anant Agarwal, president of edX, said the proctoring option would make the certificates “significantly more valuable.”
“From our discussions with employers and institutions, they certainly feel much more comfortable with proctored certificates, because these really reflect the students’ own work,” he said.
Three universities—MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley—will offer a total of seven courses through edX this fall. One fall course will have the proctored testing option, but edX has not yet disclosed which course it will be or how much the tests will cost. For the Udacity course, the proctored exam will cost $89.