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Saturday, September 24, 2022

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Gubernatorial candidate Abbott calls for MOOC credit


At a University of Texas in Dallas event, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott announced his plan to give college credit to students for taking massive open online courses (MOOCs).

“Educated people vote, contribute to society and their community,” political science major An Le said. “So why would you not allow someone who wants to learn the somewhat equivalent material in a college class to get credit for it?”

MOOCs are open to everyone regardless of college enrollment. They are typically free, with no limited enrollment space for each course, with a potential for an unusually large number of students to enroll in a class with a single instructor.

In a typical MOOC, students learn through video lectures and online assignments that are either graded via their fellow students or automated machines. Abbott said he believes that by granting credit for these classes — which most do not give now — a higher education can be made more available to more Texans.

“(For) professions that are hands-on, like the medical field, it is understandable to want those people on their feet and not their butts,” political science major Chloe Robert said.

Not all higher educators share Abbott’s sentiments.

“Often, college credit demonstrates problem solving — taking a bit of info, applying it to complete a task while juggling limited resources such as time. This mentality of earning credit for MOOCs is equivalent to claiming one should receive college credit because (they) never missed class,” said College of the Mainland professor Nakia Welch.

The level of engagement in MOOCs was also questioned.

“Can a student new to Plato read the Republic alone, watch a series (of) pre-taped lectures on it, take a multiple-choice exam and move on to the next topic?” said political science professor Bruce Hunt concerning MOOCs. “Sure, but that probably isn’t going to be confrontational enough to really stir the emotions, and get you to think, ‘God . . . he might be right!’ and then come to the next class anxious to test your thoughts against everyone else’s.”

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