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Thursday, November 3 • 2:40pm - 3:05pm
Connecting Open Courses to Tuition-free College Credit

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As part of its "Direct Credit" program, Saylor Academy has 22 courses recommended for 64 credits, with guaranteed acceptance by 16 partner schools and another 40+ schools accepting some credit. under the American Council on Education's "Alternative Credit Project". University partners have forged additional programs using their own in-house quality review processes that recognize dozens of additional Saylor Academy courses for credit. In 2016 alone, students will save hundreds of thousands of tuition dollars toward starting - and, perhaps more importantly, completing - their degrees.

While the world wondered aloud about the elusiveness of college credit for MOOCs and learned about several high-profile (and laudable) public-private partnerships that connect specific employers with specific universities, Saylor Academy has quietly been connecting informal open learning opportunities to formal degree programs without regard for where the students live or who they work for.

In this presentation, we will discuss several initiatives that share the common thread of earning college credit for open courses, bypassing barriers of cost, geography, and time. Specifically, we will tell of our Saylor Direct Credit program, which sees our OER-rich courses put under rigorous external reviews, improved by educators working with Saylor Academy, and redeployed for credit-seeking and recreational learners alike; we will tell of our work with the University of Memphis, whose faculty independently vetted and approved Saylor Academy courses to support degree completion for students whose financial situations had delayed graduation indefinitely; we will tell of our partnership with City Vision University and Qualifi to offer a $5,000 bachelor's degree; we will tell of our founding participation in the Alternative Credit Project, to which we have contributed 14 OER-based courses with guaranteed transfer to dozens of schools.

Together, these programs have so far saved students hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition. Students whose graduation dates were indefinitely postponed due to financial hardship have since earned their degrees thanks to tuition-free courses made possible by open educational resources.

When open courses comprised of open resources are vetted and recommended for college credit, everybody wins - partner schools, formal and informal students, the public, and HEIs more generally. The programs that we have piloted can readily be replicated by additional colleges and universities for a low implementation cost and a strong reward in terms of student retention and completion rates. The work put into Saylor Academy open courses as a result of quality reviews pays dividends to the open community through our open-licensed syllabi, learning outcomes, and both curated and original content.

avatar for Sean Connor

Sean Connor

Director of Community Relations, Saylor Academy
Open online courses; LMS; marketing; business & institutional use cases for OER; community management; libraries; edtech; equity; college affordability; alternative credit options; alternative credentials.
avatar for Devon Ritter

Devon Ritter

Director of Education, Saylor Academy

Thursday November 3, 2016 2:40pm - 3:05pm EDT