The nonprofit is giving university partners two options for sharing in the money its MOOCs bring in.
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In a pilot project, the American Council on Education will evaluate five to 10 Coursera offerings and may recommend that colleges grant credit for them.
A research center suggests ways to strengthen "College 101" courses to help improve college-completion rates.
Designed to revolutionize the University of California system, the venture now struggles to compete with the likes of Coursera and Udacity.
As free courses become more easily available to anyone with a Internet connection, some American professors have developed a huge following abroad.
Faculty members at California State University were similarly skeptical and warned of "Walmartization" last year as trustees charged each campus $50,000 to help fund CSU Online.