Finding a Way to Operationalize Credit for MOOCs

With its Virtual Assessment Center, Kennesaw State University put the technology and processes in…

Georgia (Jul 10, 2014) — With its Virtual Assessment Center, Kennesaw State University put the technology and processes in place to give MOOC students a clear pathway to credit and potential entry into degree programs.


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by David Raths

When the University System of Georgia announced a partnership withCoursera last year, officials at Kennesaw State saw it as an opportunity to give more learners a pathway to higher education as well as drive enrollment for the university. To establish a process that would operationalize credit awards for MOOC participants, in March 2014 KSU created a Virtual Assessment Center (VAC), which processes fee-based portfolio submissions from MOOC students and routes them to departments for evaluation. The university can now offer courses that are open to the public, but also give professionals a clearly defined pathway to credit and potential entry into degree programs.

KSU's initial MOOC offering focused on teacher education. "We felt that if we were going to participate in MOOCs, it had to make sense for us," said Elke Leeds, assistant vice president for technology-enhanced learning and executive director of KSU's Distance Learning Center. "We looked at our strengths. We are the third-largest higher education institution in Georgia and the No. 1 producer of teachers. We have some wonderful centers of excellence and faculty who are truly focused on student learning outcomes and less focused on their own research."

n January 2014, the Bagwell College of Education offered Kennesaw's first MOOC on K-12 Blended and Online Learning. "Both faculty members had experience in rural schools where they didn't have resources for professional development, so they were driven by their passion to deliver high-quality professional development to teachers in rural and urban schools," explained Jim Cope, associate director of the Distance Learning Center.

After a direct marketing campaign aimed at Georgia's K-12 teachers, almost 7,000 people signed up for the course and 38 percent were Georgia teachers. Of those, 1,100 completed the 8-week course and 350 submitted materials for course completion and professional learning unit credits. (Those credits help Georgia teachers meet licensure renewal requirements, Cope explained.)

Of those 350, 18 paid the fee to have their materials evaluated for enrollment in KSU graduate programs. A group of College of Education researchers will track student progress to look at their performance compared to those who enroll traditionally.

Elke Leeds


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit