Colorado State University’s Global Campus announced on September 6, 2012, that it will accept full transfer credits to students who enroll in a free computer-science class offered by Udacity, an online education company.
This is big news for the United States higher education system because it marks the first time that a university here has offered academic credit for a Udacity class. Austria and Germany, for example, already accept the credits.
To receive the transfer credits, which can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University, students will need to obtain a certificate of accomplishment from Udacity proving they passed the course. Afterward, they will need to pass a proctored exam, which is administered by the Pearson VUE testing group and costs $89.
Colorado State University’s Global Campus is an online university where students can earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The school has a separate accreditation and allows students to transfer in when they have received more than 12 college credit hours. Faculty members in the information technology department reviewed Udacity’s computer science course and assessed its methods of student learning before announcing that the class met CSU standards.
The course, called “Introduction to Computer Science: Building a Search Engine” and taught by Professor David Evans of the University of Virginia, will aim to teach students basic computer science skills by taking them through the steps of building a Web search engine similar to Google. Around 94,000 students took the course when it was initially offered earlier in 2012, and an additional 98,000 signed up for the second class that began in April.
“We have students from well over 100 countries, from 13-year-olds to 80-year-olds, sharing in the experience,” Evans said.
CS101 is the first course that Udacity offered, and includes guest lectures by Sebastian Thrun, the company’s founder.
Thrun was a computer science professor at Stanford University who shocked his peers when he left his tenured position at one of the best universities in the country to create a start up that offered low-cost online classes. He experienced the potential of digital education at Stanford and got hooked, which led to the groundbreaking idea.
“I feel like there’s a red pill and a blue pill,” Thrun said. “And you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture your 20 students. But I’ve taken the red pill and I’ve seen Wonderland,” The Chronicle reported.