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Nothing new here: Arizona State and edX partnership

I’m learning that if you call something existing by a new name, or if you get some press, you can discover well defined concepts and claim them as your own. Today’s example: Arizona State and edX Will Offer an Online Freshman Year, Open to All

The project, called the Global Freshman Academy, will offer a set of eight courses designed to fulfill the general-education requirements of a freshman year at Arizona State at a fraction of the cost students typically pay, and students can begin taking courses without going through the traditional application process… Students who pass a final examination in a course will have the option of paying a fee of no more than $200 per credit hour to get college credit for it.

So, for $200 a credit hour ($600 for a 3-credit course), you may well pay more than you would at a small college. The fees charged then are not innovative or game changing. The idea of open access? Oh, well the OU started that in the 1960′s: Brief History of OU.

The only innovation here? Marketing & PR.

Once systems like ASU, who have launched some innovative ideas over the past decade, start looking at what has been done in education and what is known about learning, and then launch a legitimately new idea, rather than playing a PR game, we may have the prospect of substantial educational change.


  1. I think it’s actually a pretty great alternative they’re offering. It is more than a community college, but you don’t pay until you pass and you can do it on your own time. I think it’s fantastic for juniors or seniors in high school & it’s still cheaper than many state schools in the US.

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Kate Freeman wrote:

    I’ve actually enrolled in this, and there are three levels students can choose from:

    1st level: Free. You just work through the courses and they get listed on your dashboard like any of EdX’s other material.

    2nd level: $45. At this level you can get a certificate, ostensibly to apply to a LinkedIn profile or other such use–maybe print it out and put it on your wall!

    3rd level: $200 per course. This gets you actual university level credit at ASU that can be used towards your first year of University level college –as in you’d get credit for a whole year of college for a lot less $$ than you would if you went the traditional Uni way.

    You get to make your decision about which level you want to go at, and you don’t have to go to the highest level til you’ve actually completed everything, so you can save up towards it. Or not go that level at all, your choice.

    Not having to go into debt for Uni level education — I’m game for it. I’m sure there are a lot of privileged people out there who are scoffing at this like yourself, but for people like me who prior to this didn’t have the means for higher education, this is a great deal.

    Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
  3. The comments here about the financial access piece are excellent counterpoints and address important needs for non-traditional students. The real question though is whether or not this type of learning truly is a good deal for students. The scoffing from academics is not about protecting existing privilege. It’s about making sure programs like these deliver on the best learning.

    Credentials open doors, but long term success depends on the ability to continue learning and adapting throughout your life. Learning content or specific vocational skills alone won’t get you there. Learning how to learn is critical, and this happens in discourse and in community. If that component of learning is missing from this offering, or is less effective, it might not be a better value for you in the long run.

    This experiment should happen, in my opinion, for the reasons Kate mentions above. We have to start somewhere and figure out how to expand access. We won’t know if this experiment is worth it for you as a student though unless we study it. Studying it will help higher ed design the optimal learning environments that serve everyone. Non-traditional students deserve the best educational designs, and affordability should not sacrifice that. It’s possible this design can achieve both access and good learning. This is what education researchers are fighting for, ultimately.

    Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 5:19 am | Permalink