In the field of recognizing courses that do not form part of an accredited programme, we see two main developments. On one hand, we see how MOOCs are being used for degree programmes, which means they need to be recognized by the institution that issues the degree. On the other hand, we see that alternative credit is being developed for MOOCs. To follow is an inventory of the different initiatives that have arisen to recognize MOOCs.


Credit for MOOCs offered by other schools: the Alternative Credit Project

The American Council of Education initiated a project to recognize MOOC credit in degree programmes at a selection of US based universities (American Council of Education, [1]
 (Links to an external site.) The Council evaluated a selection of MOOCs from different providers against a set of quality criteria, and MOOCs that met the criteria were included in the project. A number of US universities now issue college credit for these MOOCs, which do include ID-verification, but do not seem to include proctored exams. In the website above, students can search courses based on topic, school offering the courses and schools accepting the credit #.



A European quality label for MOOCs

In Europe, the OpenUpEd quality label was developed for MOOCs (OpenUpEd, [2]
 (Links to an external site.)Its associated institutional benchmarking is primarily meant to be applied as an improvement tool. It compares institutional performances with current best practices and leads to measures to raise the quality of its MOOCs and their operation. This process is designed to complement both an institutional course approval process, and ongoing evaluation and monitoring of courses in presentation. This quality label does not lead to credits.


A full first year based on MOOCs: Arizona State University

The Arizona State University partnered up with edX in the Global Freshman Academy, with the aim to offer the first year of college entirely through MOOCs (Global Freshman Academy, [3]
(Links to an external site.)Students register in the ID-verified track of the MOOC for US$ 49, take a proctored exam and, if they pass, they have a year to convert to college credit for an additional fee. The openness of MOOCs is still valid: the courses are accessible for free and without formal entry requirements like transcripts or GPA.


A BSc degree based on MOOCs

The French start-up OpenClassRooms (Openclassrooms, [4]
 (Links to an external site.)is launching the first State-recognized bachelor degree in France that relies exclusively on MOOCs. Students need to register in the paid Premium Plus track, that offers individual interaction with a mentor, and they need to have their project work evaluated by a jury.


MIT Micromasters

MIT offers as series of MOOCs that can lead to a MicroMaster’s credential, issued by MITx (MIT Micromasters, [5]
 (Links to an external site.) Required for this credential are exceptional results in the online courses and in the additional, proctored, exam. Learners that have  earned the MicroMasters credential can apply to be admitted to the campus program at MIT, where they can earn the  full master’s degree by taking additional coursework and a thesis project.  The programme features “inverted admissions”, which means students can take the online part of the coursework without having to apply for admission. Admitted students will be able to use their MicroMaster’s credential as course credit.


Recognition of MOOCs in formal education

Six universities (Delft University of Technology; Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne; the Australian National University; the University of Queensland; the University of British Columbia; and Boston University) are working towards developing an international credit transfer system for MOOCs. This will require the consortium to develop a system of reliable testing for MOOCs and to develop coding systems to measure the level and weight of each course, as well as to examine the entry requirements for each module [6]
 (Links to an external site.) This will lead to the greater flexibility and variety in courses, and students can cherry-pick their courses from a broad range of institutions. Student-exchange is not new: students have received credits for courses taken at other universities. But with MOOCs, we open up the potential that this number largely increases, and thus create greater flexibility for a larger number of students.