TESC is a "virtual" college and one of the first schools in the country designed specifically for adult learners. TESC offers degree programs and certificates in more than 100 areas of study. The interview focuses on the Associate in Science in Business Administration (ASBA) degree.
The school partners with Saylor Academy and allows students to take free online courses from Saylor and submit their work for credit evaluation by TESC. This results in a fully-online degree for about $5,000 for fees to the college.
I have written before about how competency-based degrees and credits require a rethinking of the credit hour model that higher ed has used for a very long time. This is also true for assessing prior learning and learning from other sources (including MOOCs) because the answer is not to just look at how long you spend in a classroom or online, but on showing what you learned.
Singer is vice provost of the Center for the Assessment of Learning at TESC. The degree they are offering comes after students take a selection of pre-selected MOOCs and then having their knowledge assessed by TESC. This was a big topic for MOOCs a few years ago, but has been somewhat lost in the the boom (and bust?) of MOOC hype the past year.
What is not new is the idea of prior learning assessment - sometimes called "experiential learning." There is some adaptation needed here, as assessing learning from a MOOC is not "prior" learning, but it is learning from another source being evaluated by an outside party.
Something that I don't feel should be the number one factor in using and accepting MOOCs is a financial model. But it is high on the list for many colleges. Marc Singer says in the interview: "The first thing people perceive is [granting credit for prior learning is] costing us money. That was an important obstacle for us to address. As it turns out, that’s not the case; I think that particularly as a state institution, where our state (New Jersey) subsidizes some of what we do, we’re not really losing money from this in the way people would expect. I’d also point people through the studies that have been done of students who come to a college, any college, whose credits they’ve acquired through prior learning. Those students tend to be more motivated, more focused on their goals, more self-directed. Because of that, we’ve seen measurable differences in the number of credits they take at an institution like this — they actually take more credits in college, not fewer, because they’re more invested in the process and we’ve validated what they’re bringing to us from outside. Not only that [but] their rates of completion … are much higher than students who don’t bring anything from the outside."