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Jan 24, 2013 07:08 AM EST

Academic Partnerships, an association of public universities in the country, is set to launch free credit based MOOC2Degree courses along with 40 state instituitions.

Some of the participating universities include Arizona State University, Cleveland State University, Florida International University, Lamar University, University of Arkansas System, University of Cincinnati, University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, University of West Florida and Utah State University among others.  

For the project, the universities will convert certain degree programs into Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC). Each MOOC has the same academic content that is offered at the universities and taught by the same professors. 

For example the University Of Texas will be offering courses in Bachelor of Science in Nursing, while University of Cincinnati will include the  Innovation and Design Thinking course in MOOC. 

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Open online courses have been previously offered at various higher educational instituitions, but they have not been tied to a university credential.

"Making the first course in an online degree program a MOOC brings real value to both the student and the university," said Randy Best, Founder and Chairman of Academic Partnerships. The free start is just the encouragement many working adults need to enrol in a degree program that will have a big impact on their future success," Randy Best , founder and chairman of Academic Partnerships, said in a press release. "For universities, MOOC2Degree will potentially attract larger numbers of qualified students into their degree programs." 

The first set of MOOC2Degrees courses will be launched in spring 2013 and will be offered via the Canvas Network .The network features intuitive design, flexible pedagogy, integrated multimedia, deep social network integration and easy-to-use authoring system.  

Once students complete these online courses, they can earn academic credits based upon the benchmark established by the participating universities.

Phil Regier, executive vice provost and dean of Arizona State University Online, said that this project allows people to experience high-quality online courses along with interactions and other academic tools.

"We're confident that once MOOC students begin interacting with our expert faculty and their fellow classmates, they'll begin forming a lasting educational relationship with the University," Larry Johnson, interim senior vice president and provost at the University of Cincinnati said.

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