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MOOCs and Career Qualifications

Certificates, Credits, Diplomas and Beyond

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The Evolution and Evaluation of Massive Open Online Courses

Part of the book series: The Cultural and Social Foundations of Education ((CSFE))


Higher education offers ‘secondary educational benefits’ – credits and diplomas – which serve as job and career qualifications providing access to advantageous careers and social positions. Critics argue that MOOCs cannot provide such benefits. Developments since 2012 blunt these critiques. The first section of this chapter considers the contribution of MOOC certificates to diploma-based credentials when accepted for transfer credit. The second section then considers stand-alone MOOC-based qualifications such as Udacity ‘nano-degrees’, ALISON ‘diplomas’, Coursera ‘specializations’ and edX ‘mini-masters’. The chapter ends with an examination of MOOC certificates and badges as components of digital capability portfolios. The conclusion is that bundling of learning experiences including MOOC certificates in personalized portfolios may fit the occupational credential needs of many learners better than college diplomas in the emerging ‘gig economy’.

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    This is a good example of Trotsky’s law of uneven development: the most advanced technologies will spread most rapidly in the least developed nations, because that is where we find the smallest installed base of competitive previous technologies – for example, the rapid spread of cell phones in nations with undeveloped ground phone systems.

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    See, e.g., the Supply Chain ‘Mini-Masters’ at

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Waks, L. (2016). MOOCs and Career Qualifications. In: The Evolution and Evaluation of Massive Open Online Courses. The Cultural and Social Foundations of Education. Palgrave Pivot, New York.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Pivot, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-137-48594-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-349-85204-8

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