As mentioned last week by Thomas Edison State College in a quick Q&A session here, we have a new addition to our Credit Aligned Courses program — HIST103: World History in the Early Modern and Modern Eras (1600-Present).
This brings the number of Saylor.org courses which have been vetted and reviewed as free prep for college credit bearing exams up to 12.
Thirty-one hours of real college credit available for a very low cost
Accounting for two Calculus options (MA101-EXC and K12 Calculus AB), these credit aligned courses cover 11 unique college level subjects. Corresponding exams are each recommended for 3-4 hours of credit, which by my math, totals up to more than a year’s worth of credit on the path towards a degree.
As an example, students could now take both of the available Saylor-aligned TECEP® exams; Saylor’s three NCCRS recommended exams; Excelsior College’s three aligned UExcel® exams; and the two CLEP® exams which Saylor.org has matched courses to, and earn 31 hours of credit for the cost of $649 (plus some fees). All 31 of these credits would be accepted as transfer by a school such as Thomas Edison. While the credit and degree are not yet free, as with all Saylor.org courses, the education is.
A credit by exam model refreshed with OER alignment
The completed development of the World History from 1600 to Present (HIS-126-TE) exam by TESC marks an important milestone for The Saylor Foundation and OER. The idea of credit by exam (CBE) is not a new one, and schools such as Thomas Edison and Excelsior have been providing them for a while. That fact has been the basis for much of Saylor’s work to date in providing credit opportunities around our courses, as we’ve realigned and developed course material to match existing CBE options — filling the void of free and comprehensive study material for CBEs.
In the case of HIST103 however, Thomas Edison has created a brand new exam, developed specifically with Saylor OER in mind as the basis for the assessed learning outcomes. The beauty for us is that no new course development is needed in order to safely recommend this TECEP option for HIST103 students interested in receiving actual college credit for their work.
Furthermore, this exam assesses a course subject that, according to my research, was not previously addressed by the existing CBE market. This is another example of the power of OER in unbundling higher education, allowing TESC to use an innovative and cost effective method for the assessment of student learning via free online courses; a topic covered recently in a report by the UNESCO/COL Chair in OER programme.
Where do we go from here?
World History from 1600 to Present is just the first of six planned exams to be developed by Thomas Edison State College and matched to Saylor.org courses. You can read more about this partnership and view the alignments slated for development here (this list is subject to grow or change in the future). My hope is that Saylor.org and other OER providers are able to work with like-minded higher education institutions to provide even more affordable credit options in the future. As can be seen here, there are already numerous subjects that have widely recognized credit bearing exams, but that list is certainly not exhaustive, meaning more work can be done to provide alternative forms of education with recognized credentials.
For our part, The Saylor Foundation is continuing to move forward with these sorts of initiatives, and should have more credit opportunities and new credit partners to announce soon.