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How Five Little Coursera Courses Could Change the Face of Higher Education
By: Christine Geraci
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The college experience — living in a dorm, meeting people different from yourself, learning new ideas — is unlike any other rite of passage for young adults worldwide. But not only is it not for everyone, it's simply not within everyone's reach. College is a unique experience — but it's also uniquely expensive. A four-year degree can leave someone in arrears for the rest of their lives. 
 
Enter the Internet. Online courses from accredited universities are supposed to help people obtain academic degrees while attending to life's realities: full-time jobs, families, households. But while online courses are indeed convenient, they aren't always economical
 
But Coursera's online courses are free. And five of them have just been approved to count for college credit by the American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service. For a modest fee, students can take these courses and have them count toward a college degree from any college or university that accepts them.
 
It's the latest example of a young but rapidly evolving idea: Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. MOOCs essentially bring higher education to the masses — for free. The model has massive implications for higher education, the duties of a college professor and, most importantly, the accessibility of college degrees, which are more essential than ever to increasing a person's potential earning power
 
This idea is a noble one, and might have an interesting ripple effect on other areas of the digital world — particularly, the mass availability of Internet access. In a world where anyone can go online to get a certified college degree, is it fair that some areas of that world can't even get dial-up?
 
What do you think of MOOCs? Have you ever taken Coursera courses?


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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