Chronicle of Higher education published an article today on Udacity’s decision to begin charging MOOC participants for the certificate of completion for their courses. This is an interesting move in ‘free’ education. While the content will still be free, and participant-students can continue to access and complete courses as they deem necessary, they will no longer be certified for that completion without a fee. According to Udacity – this is a move to validate the credentialing offered by Udacity. The fee includes monthly access to the course, and all sorts of additional ‘educational’ support relevant to the online world (not the instructor though…..). The movement toward MOOCs seemed to imply a cultural shift back toward the utopian democratization possible with the internet applied to higher education – making higher education accessible to anyone anytime. Now, in stating that credentialing and proving that a student completed a course to validate the learning implies that without money, without tuition, a university can’t validate learning. This makes a statement about higher education in america as degree factories if you just pay tuition, but it also makes a comment about the content available in MOOCs. The focus is no longer learning, and providing academically rigorous courses for personal gain, it’s now requiring fees to certify a students learned what they were supposed to learn (according to what measuring standard I’m assuming depends on the course?) – something that can not be done without a fee. I understand universities have overhead costs to keep themselves running (I worked in higher education administration for 9 years, I understand) – and universities need to have standards – and universities need to create incentive for students to continue for them to be successful. So is this the answer? Charge for credentialing?