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Georgia State U. to Grant Course Credit for MOOCs

Georgia State University is adopting a new policy that could allow students to receive class credit for taking massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

Students who have taken MOOCs, which are often open to anyone without admission requirements, will be able to work through the university’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions and academic departments to determine if they have the required understanding of the material.

“Essentially, this is aligning MOOCs with our other transfer credits,” said Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for the university.

Georgia State already grants course credits to students who have earned similar credits from other accredited institutions, as well as to students who take university-vetted examinations like Advanced Placement tests. If a student demonstrates mastery of the material learned in the MOOC, then credit will be granted in the same manner, Ms. Jones said, at no additional cost.

Georgia State is one of the first universities to experiment in offering credit for MOOCs, Ms. Jones added. (California’s San Jose State University is also experimenting with awarding academic credit for MOOCs, in a pilot project with Udacity that was announced last week.)

Mark P. Becker, president of Georgia State University, said he considers MOOCs as an important advance in the changing landscape of higher education, but noted that he does not necessarily see them as a large leap forward.

“I don’t see it as a brave new world,” Mr. Becker said. “I don’t think that they, in themselves, change the world fundamentally, but they are an addition. And what you’re seeing is that there are different ways to adopt MOOCs into existing paradigms.”

Mr. Becker said the university’s new policy was evidence of this, as he and the Georgia State University Senate had little difficulty in finding a way to provide credit for MOOCs.

“It’s a new step, it’s an important step,” he said, “but by no means is it the only step.”

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