Should colleges give credit for commercial courses?
This is a really interesting question, and an important one for building an economy around specially-built courses. Can a college outsource its foreign language courses to the commercial company Rosetta Stone? I was amazed at the anger at James Madison University’s plans to do just that. This isn’t an issue of whether a for-profit can provide reasonable learning. This is about a non-profit outsourcing single courses. I like the idea — I’d like to see higher education control costs by creating a market for high-quality courses. The faculty can serve as both a broker and as quality control, which it sounds like they are doing in the James Madison case. Of course, the last question in this quote is the key one.
Feal, the MLA director, said James Madison’s program “sounds like buying college credit.”
“If a college is charging tuition and essentially turning their students over to Rosetta Stone with very little value added, that is scandalous,” said Feal. “Why would a student need to go through a college for that experience?”