A common complaint about MOOCs is that they can rarely be used to earn academic credit. And when they can, the credit is typically only recognized by a limited number of universities.
In July 2019, we reported on the Common Microcredentials Framework (CMF), introduced by the European MOOC Consortium. The CMF aims to increase recognition of MOOCs and improve credit mobility through MOOCs.
FutureLearn has introduced several microcredentials within this framework that can be used to earn academic credit. More will likely be made available in the future. Courses need to reach specific standards:
- Total study time, including assessment, to be between 100 and 150 hours;
- Be at level 6-7 in the European Qualification Framework (EQF) or the university’s national qualification framework, or at level 4-5 and meet European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System criteria;
- Provide a summative assessment so academic credit can be awarded, either upon completion or via recognition of prior learning when the student enrolls at a university;
- Conduct a reliable, compliant form of ID verification;
- Include a transcript setting out learning outcomes, total study hours, EQF level and number of credit points earned.
It is a confusing field, with some courses advertising CMF points and others mentioning UK or Australian credits. Although the CMF is mentioned on the microcredentials page, students still have to apply to their university to apply for credit transfer for courses taken through other universities.
*equal to one unit of postgraduate study at both Deakin and Griffith University (Australia)
**equal to one unit of postgraduate study at Deakin University (Australia)
Some microcredentials can be audited for free while others are pay-only. Credit points are only available if you pay.
And by making discussions a central component of each course, FutureLearn is promoting its belief in the power of social learning.
FutureLearn Microcredentials currently provide 10 to 15 UK academic credits or equivalent. Some also confer professional certificates such as a Certificate in Photography from The Royal Photographic Society.
By contrast, not all FutureLearn Programs confer academic credit or are professionally accredited. Some offer a FutureLearn Award or certificate of completion.
According to a report by Class Central, at the end of 2019 there was a total of 820 MOOC-based microcredentials, of which FutureLearn contributed 49.
Note that while steps are being taken to allow students to earn academic credit through MOOCs, the path is still not straightforward. Under CMF, microcredentials work in a similar way to standard university courses: ultimately, it’s the receiving institution that decides whether to recognize the microcredential’s credit.