Notes in the Margins: Free courses, president-profs and on-campus recovery

University presidents pitch in as professors You roll into class with your cup of coffee, grab a seat and open up your laptop. The professor at the front of the room is one of the most well-known and powerful people on campus, the university president. (The Washington Post)

Free courses may shake universities’ monopoly on credit Several new companies and organizations with impressive pedigrees are harnessing the Internet to provide college courses for free, or for next to nothing. And while many traditional universities are slowing this trend by refusing to give academic credit toward degrees to students who complete such programs, several no- and low-cost startups are doing an end-run around this monopoly by inventing new kinds of credentials that employers may consider just as good. (The Hechinger Report)

A Bridge to Recovery on Campus Over the past several years recovery programs have been popping up at colleges, large and small, public and private. Now there are more than 20 programs, with more in the pipeline. (The New York Times via University Business)

Udacity and the future of online universities Professor Sebastian Thrun has given up his tenure at Stanford, and he’s started a new online university called Udacity. He wants to enroll 500,000 students for his first course, on how to build a search engine — and of course it’s all going to be free. (Reuters)

College students face stiff competition for financial aid Several states have reduced scholarships or toughened eligibility criteria for financial aid. Eligibility for the maximum Pell grant, the largest source of federal financial aid, has also been tightened. Meanwhile, the number of families applying for financial aid has soared. (USA Today)