Big Changes Are Afoot!

In September of last year, we announced that a subset of our 300+ courses would receive close support and proactive maintenance, while the remainder (“legacy” courses) would rely primarily on community support. At the same time, we deprecated the organization of our courses into majors and minors.
Earlier this year, we made public a newer course platform built in Moodle, housing our actively-supported courses. We have begun to encourage students to explore and enroll in these courses.
While necessary to help us test out tools and options to improve overall delivery and student experience, these changes have helped to create a confusing situation!
To help focus on quality and clarity of our learning ecosystem, we are moving some tools out of beta, working to retire other tools, and making the current distinction between supported and legacy courses more explicit. Please read on for very important details!

What to expect

  • Starting on May 13th, 2015, legacy courses will no longer be listed in the Eportfolio course catalog and you will not be able to add new legacy courses to your “in progress” tab. Any courses, whether legacy or supported, that you have already enrolled in will still remain in your “In Progress” tab; courses you have planned or enrolled in will remain in your “Areas of Study” tab. Your records and your data will remain completely intact. You will still be able to access the legacy courses in which you are enrolled via
  • Starting on May 13th, 2015, courses will no longer be hosted at our main site, All supported courses will be served from and all legacy courses will be at – we encourage you to switch to any time before this date
  • Starting on May 13th, 2015, supported course exams with be available only at (no longer on – we encourage you to switch to any time before this date
  • Starting on August 26th, 2015, the original Testing Center ( will be closed. All legacy courses will no longer have exams or certificates available; new certificates will only be available for the supported courses at
  • Click on the images below for a visual guide to the changes:

What You Should Do

  • Although we will take all due steps to keep your data safe, please download your existing certificates if you have not previously done so.
  • If you wish to receive a certificate for a legacy course, plan to complete that course before August 26th, 2015. Again, exams and certificates for legacy courses will not be available after that date.
  • In the mean time, if you wish to list any legacy course on your In Progress tab in Eportfolio, enroll in that course (or mark as “planned” in an Area of Study) prior to May 13th, 2015.
  • Visit, bookmark, and become familiar with both and, which will take over for the courses currently housed on our main site. Current course URLs will redirect to the proper place.
  • Sign up for our new discussion forums at Please note that this is a separate account from your regular Saylor account, which allows you to use a nickname as your forums name rather than your real/full name. You are able to fill out profile information much as with your Eportfolio account and can more easily follow and message fellow students.

What The Future Holds

  • We are working with our partners at Accredible to try to upgrade all existing certificates to the newer Accredible evidence-based certificates. We will keep you updated on that progress.
  • We plan to recognize already-completed majors and minors, as well additional unique programs of study, through Accredible certificates — this is not absolutely certain and depends on successfully completing the step above.
  • We are actively considering revising or removing our Eportfolio – our next steps here will focus on eliminating bugs and refining features (particular surrounding registration, login, and account management) or on replicating important eportfolio functions elsewhere and retiring the system.
  • The main site at will soon get a refresh and become much simpler — the site will focus on representing Saylor Academy to new users, visitors, our partners, and the general public, rather than serve as a learning platform.

Questions And Answers

Why are you doing this?

We are taking these steps to focus on quality and improve clarity. We absolutely need to simplify. Concentrating our resources on a smaller set of courses and a smaller number of platforms allows us to put our best foot forward and serve our whole community more effectively.

What is the difference between a Saylor-supported course and a community-supported “legacy” course?

There are about 93 Saylor-supported courses at present, which all live at We are continuing to update and improve these courses with all the resources available to us. We have committed to long-term support for these courses.
Legacy, or community-supported, courses live at These may have broken links or other issues that cannot be quickly resolved; in other words, these are “use at your own risk” courses.
All of our courses are available on GitHub and we strongly encourage the community to log issues, fork the repositories, make improvements, and send pull requests — when students replace broken links and make other improvements, we can accept those changes and have them automatically appear on the site.

What can I do to get a course on the Saylor-supported list rather than the legacy list?

Courses that are on the supported list have some or all of these qualities: predominantly openly-licensed, more innately sustainable, credit-recommended, popular, foundational, actively used by partner programs, and useful in the modern employment marketplace. That does not mean that a legacy course is not any of those things! Importantly, if a legacy course were to attract financial and expert support toward bringing it fully up-to-date and up to our standards, we would consider moving it over to the learn.saylor site. We hope that students and education providers continue to enjoy all of our courses, regardless of which group they are in.

Are these courses going to disappear? Will I have more than two weeks’ notice?

None of our courses will ever completely disappear. What will change, for the legacy courses, is that official final exams and certificates will no longer be available after August 26th, 2015.

How will I be able to complete my major?

After August 26th, 2015, you will not be able to complete a major by collecting new course completion certificates for any legacy courses. Legacy courses will remain available for study, however. If the courses comprising your major are completed before we remove exams from, we hope to be able to recognize majors and minors, eventually, through the newer Accredible certificates. We do not plan to recognize majors and minors beyond that point, unfortunately.
We know that certificates – and majors – are important for many of our students. In the coming weeks and months, we will help to identify other ways to demonstrate learning. While certificates are a very convenient and common way to show what you know, they are not the only way.

I earned a certificate for a legacy course. Will Saylor still back that up?

Absolutely. We hope to upgrade older certificates to the newer Accredible certificates — although this is not firm yet — but, at the very least, we will keep data on your certificate verification codes, etc., and continue to encourage you to post them on the Web, share them with employers, list them on your resume, etc.

Why remove the legacy courses from the Eportfolio?

We did consider keeping both sets of courses on our website and in Eportfolio, but with a clearer distinction. Our staff felt that the greatest clarity would come from a more complete separation — courses mentioned or hosted on,, and will all be supported, updated courses. All others will be on In this way, there will be no mistake; the look of the two sets of courses will be fully distinct.

I have another question that is not answered here.

Leave us a comment, send us an email, mention us on social media, or find us in the forums – we are eager to hear from you.

54 thoughts on “Important upcoming changes to courses and certificates

  1. I’m not against change but I do think this change you undertake is not for better. Because it is this possibility to take majors that makes Saylor experience unique from the other mooc platform. I guess you didn’t really bear in mind the students who are currently following some of your majors when deciding to launch into this project. You said you do this to improve the courses but if your goal is really to improve, then you should focus more on creating platform or some kind of forums that eases students contact than messing up people’s plan.

    1. Hello Lucien, we know that the announcement is far from anyone’s ideal — including ours, and we are sorry for causing frustration or surprise. We invite you to share thoughts with us and connect with other students in our discussion forums (a separate account/login from the normal Saylor account):

  2. Well, this makes me sad. I’m not surprised, since you guys have been talking about changes like this for a while, but it’s still dissappointing. The majors and minors are what made Saylor different. Most online course websites have stuff about computers and business (supported courses), and not the interesting other kinds of courses that made me support Saylor so heavily in the first place (legacy courses.)

    Now what, since I’ve been slowing working through the English Lit major?

    Saylor, since you’ve made this decision, do you have any suggestions for alternative websites? Where should I go for cool majors like English Lit, History and Psychology for free? Any alternatives would be great.

    (I understand that these courses will be around on the Legacy website, but, without enrolling on the eportfolio and without being able to take a test, the majors here don’t seem to have the kind of punch and immediacy as they always had.)

    1. Hi Trisha, your words, especially the last sentence, echo Paul’s and others’. We, ourselves, have a mixture of excitement but also disappointment.

      I don’t have suggestions right now for alternatives, but we welcome hashing out suggestions and ideas in the forums.

      Without backpedaling or offering false assurances, our staff really would like to see interesting things happen with the legacy courses — but that’s something for wider, ongoing conversations.

  3. I’m working individually on the legacy History and Art History majors. I want to complete these classes to help me get into the local Art Museum’s “Docent Program” which requires History and Art History background.

    Is there anywhere else online that offers these majors as complete as Saylor’s legacy classes? I really want a thorough road map that I can follow. If majors exist like these that are not “Legacy”, I’d like to hear about them.

    Can I count on Saylor to keep the legacy roadmaps in place while I work on them?

    It may take me a while to poke through them all. I am a slow, but deliberate learner. (53 years ole) 🙂 It’s not as easy as it once was.


    1. Hi Jeff, the roadmaps will stick around; we can archive them, probably in the forums. I’m not immediately aware of major-style alternatives for the Art History and History, but I expect that students will begin to share them.

  4. I have just enrolled in 3 three classes that are accredited coursees that will allow me to transfer them to my school will I still be able to do this?

    1. Hi Lindsay, all of the credit-recommended courses are in the supported set — essentially anything that you see under the five “pathways” at or at

      You should be fully in the clear with your courses.

  5. It is obvious Saylor is facing the heat from other mooc providers. The mooc market, is unfortunately, no more what it was when Saylor started out. This impacts course funding, since funding sources closely monitor metrics like class enrollment, no. of students who actually complete courses, and so on. Some say lean is the only way to survive in the current market conditions and Saylor is following suit. I, as a student, am sad to see some very unique courses (such as Intercultural Communication, for example) being ‘chopped off’, but as a businessman, I am forced to empathize with Saylor. Now, my only hope is that the ‘cutting-down’ exercises meets its intended goals and that Saylor need not, sometime later, have to engage anew in a second streamlining round.

    I wish all the best to Saylor’s management team

    1. Thanks, Ram. Ah, would that we had the bank accounts of some of the major MOOC providers! Fortunately, yes, there is still strong commitment to our mission and the smaller set of courses is much more manageable (a couple dozen of them are under development as we speak).

      My hope is to see a lot of these legacy course nevertheless thrive, although I partially share Paul’s concern re: incentive.

    1. There are enough business and CS courses to constitute a major and more than enough diversity of courses to constitute a General Studies type plan.

      There ARE certificates for all courses through August and for all courses at beyond August — namely, these Accredible certificates:

      Majors are very beloved, and one can continue to follow a particular major pathway, but majors are not explicitly/officially a part of, and, as noted, many certificates will not be available after August.

  6. Although these changes were announced in outline moths ago ago, it is nevertheless extremely disappointing to see the details and dates in black and white. As I said on the forums, the end of testing and the removal of certificates pretty much kills the legacy courses and removes any incentive for continuing ‘community support’.

      1. My reference was to the discussions immediately after the first ‘Office Hours’, where the demise of testing and certification of legacy courses was first announced.

        1. Ah, thank you. My mobile connection and failing battery was mitigating against much forums searching.

          To all: there are a few threads; search for “office hours” at and look for February dates.

  7. Sorry to see these changes, though they seem to have been coming incrementally for some time. It appears that Saylor is becoming just another MOOC host specializing in workplace training, which is certainly needed, but is not all many hoped it could be. Apparently the big excitement over free online education has fallen flat, one more indication that the USA is collapsing culturally.

    1. I should add, I do appreciate what you have been doing, and I am not blaming Saylor in particular for being unable to follow through with liberal arts education when the donors are just not there. It is a broader cultural problem.

      1. Thanks, Don. I hear you, and understand the context of your post — our niche is difficult to sustain and keep whole, although clearly people in the larger community are still excited about “free” education, or “open source” education as someone in our forums has put it. Our staff are, too, and we intend to keep hammering at it!

  8. You guys are the reason I believed I could get back into learning. I started off on my phone reading and watching the videos when I had nothing else to view the content. Please do all you can to bring over as many of the courses as possible . Your courses, plans and majors are what make Saylor special to all of us. Thank you and the Saylor staff for all of your hard work.

    1. Thank you, Dave. Our priority, now, is definitely to do less better. Our hope is to do right by the good we’ve done, too. We’ll need help, I think, and tinkering, and TLC from folks who can make the most of our Creative Commons open licenses!

  9. Is there any opportunity for students to have the final exams to legacy courses in which they are enrolled saved or sent somewhere to take later with answers for their own purposes?

    1. I second this one. I’d love it if the final exams could be changed to some other format, like a PDF with answers in back. That way, we can still self-test and Saylor doesn’t have to worry about upkeep.

      1. I think that, at a minimum, this should be possible — forgive the ambiguity of “I think…” and “…should…”, but I want not to be careless with a topic that’s really important to people.

        1. Is there any way Saylor would dump the exams out of Moodle for the legacy courses and toss that backup into GitHub alongside the courses themselves … because spawning up a new Moodle site from an export from an old one is trivial and it’d be nice if Saylor doesn’t want to maintain the testing site, we could at least pull the exams into a local instance for access to assessment . Or, hell, could the exams and answers just be exported to PDF and tacked on to each course’s GitHub entry. Sure, there wouldn’t be online testing, but at least there’d be an opportunity to take the final and grade it yourself to ensure mastery of the material.

          1. Sorry for the long wait on comment approval :-/

            We switched to “approve everything” in an excess of caution re: the latest announced WordPress exploit via putting script in comments. Back to relevance:

            So, yeah, I think any of those are possible. We were coy about exams just because we don’t know, so we don’t want to say “don’t worry, X will happen”. Well, something will happen — none of us has any passive or active interest in hoarding or discarding exams.

            I see a couple options right of the bat, that could be redundant to one another. Put the Moodle XML files up for public retrieval, as you suggest. We could also have the files on GitHub pipe out to decent “legacy” test pages with basic, clean JS to do show/hide or a basic auto-grader. The same files or a branch could output to plain vanilla HTML. Having structured, semantically-rich files would be great, though, for teachers or whomever wanted to use them in Moodle or a compatible LMS.

            Let’s keep talking about this, I guess — I don’t really feel inspired, yet, but some kind of happy and interesting solution — or several — seem within reach.

    2. It is possible that it is possible. We wanted to avoid ambiguity and ambivalence in making our announcement — we do not yet know what will become of the exams — but there is a collective desire for our staff to see that they are not wasted.

  10. Well this is fantastic. A long search on the Internet to try and find the course I’ve been searching for. I finally find it and about to start and this happens. Is it possible to complete a course in under 4 months? And what is the point in a course without some backup of achievement in a certificate.
    Feeling totally let down

    1. Yes, it is possible to finish a course in less than 4 months, and likely in even less time than that — it will depend on the course, your available time/energy, and so forth. I got through CS101 very quickly — maybe three weeks or so — but stretch a couple other courses into months and even years. While I fully agree that certificates, badges, etc. are very important incentives, I would also have to acknowledge that most of the skills that I assert on a resume are backed up not by certificates, but by me, wherever I have learned them. I hope that Saylor can still be of great value to you.

  11. Very sad news for me and the rest of the world, I understand that it’s heavy workload to maintain several courses with material. One thing I’ve learned in Computer Science and Informatics from the book Getting Real from is that you should not remove features from your software, the customer gets very angry and disappointed if you do it. This is just unfortunately what Saylor will be doing now, and that’s was Microsoft was doing with Windows 8 when it comes out and also removing the very important start menu, people get crazy on Microsoft for this mistake.

    Another thing you can learn from the book Getting Real is that you should start a project lean and I understand that that is what you are trying to achieve now, to cut off much workload and issues. Unfortunately, the customer is suffering and I see no bright future in this for myself. Actually, you guys should have done as Mike from World Mentoring Academy, only taken into completed courses från MIT, Stanford, Harvad and other universitys in order to keep the Majors and issue certificates it hade been less work for you guys on Saylor, i think it had been a very good solution. I hope you find a good solution to solve Saylors problems but to slim away the entire course offering is not a good solution for the future and your customers.

    Best regards

    Henrik Byström student in computer science

    1. that’s was Microsoft was doing with Windows 8

      Point taken; and such damage can be hard to repair — 8.1 came out reasonably quickly and is a great update for laptop/desktop users, but anyone who doesn’t already know and use 8.1 tends to assume that 8.x is just plain bad.

      Thanks for your excellent thoughts…as well as the book referrals from 37Signals.

  12. Hi. I completed and get the certificate for “SSE101: Nasa and’s Survey of System engineer” but in myportfolio result still enrolled and not complete. Why? Second question: on my certificate is written that is possible to verify the identity with the website but you just said that it will be closed. How people will able to verify my certificate? Thank you

    1. Hi Marcello, thanks for the questions. The first problem should now be solved — one annoying habit of our testing center is that it will unenroll you from your courses after a period of time. If the course data has not already been synchronized to your eportfolio, however, it will not show up later. I have re-enrolled you in the course at and manually synced the data.

      We have yet to determine exactly how we will keep older certificates verifiable, but we will come up with a working system before the end of August — we are definitely committed to that.

  13. Hey Sean,

    I am Ovais from Pakistan and believe me I am heartbroken to see the changes in actual black and white 🙁 Saylor was the best platform for learning I have ever seen ! and in my opinion its not anymore ..

    Still you guys hold a lot of treasure in your legacy courses, I would request you the following things

    1) Keep the Legacy Courses alive !! Please.. there is way too much to be lost

    2) Try to Upgrade as much courses from Legacy to your main portfolio (believe me, these are one of the best courses I have seen in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics )

    3) Try to make the interface of legacy.saylor in the same way as main saylor. Don’t award certificates, I don’t care but atleast keep the user expereince alive

    1. Hi Ovais,

      Thank you for the feedback, which is shared with the rest of the team. Good to hear your opinion, especially, on the ME and Math courses.

      We would all like to see the legacy courses succeed. My own best hope is that (a), some will be adopted by individuals and improved, but also (b) that organizations and schools can work with us to help improve and re-contribute them to the public.

      For the interface, do you mean that legacy courses should have the same user experience as the “new” courses, or that they should match the older style of courses (with jquery dropdowns, etc.)? Part of our intent, honestly, is to clearly differentiate the courses so as to prevent confusion. Our Web development resources are meager, but it could also be exciting to be able to offer a couple different user-selectable stylesheets (which, for a different purpose — accessibility — the new course platform does already).

      Further thoughts?

  14. I use saylor for my childrens homeschool. Before the change my children had taken assessments and there were graded and I could locate them. With the change, they now have to register for the same classes and retake all the assessments. The school year ends next week and they do not have enough time to start all over. How can I get these assessments over to their new accounts so they will not be retained this school year. They were ready for the final exams but now everything is missing

    1. Hi Natalie, there is good news and inconvenient news; to put it another way, the good news is that this is “merely” inconvenient, but your students should not have to retake anything.

      While we cannot move data from the old moodle system (the testing center at to the new moodle system (the comprehensive courses + exams at, both systems should be sending data to the eportfolio accounts. That is, if I took quizzes 1 through 3 in the older system and quizzes 4 through 6 plus the final exam in the new system, all of that should show up for the course in my eportfolio, under quiz results for the “graded” assessments and under the transcript for my final exam.

      The students definitely should not need to retake anything, but graded results will, as above, be split between the old and new systems and mostly collected in the eportfolio. There is some extra data available in the Moodle systems, and you may be using them a bit differently.

      If you like, send an email to our contact /at/ address; several of our staff monitor that account and can help you to resolve your grading for the year in the best way possible.

  15. If the legacy courses, is that official final exams and certificates will no longer be available after August 26th, 2015 will we have to do the coures again to get newer Accredible certificates???

    1. Hi Joshua, the short answer is no, you will not need to re-do the exams. If and when we are able to upgrade existing certs to newer Accredible certs (we believe that we will be able to do this, but we are being cautious about making promises), that process will be automatic.

  16. I came across your World Geography (Saylor Legacy) course back in April and decided I would give it a try in late June or July while on vacation with time on my hands. Only now did I discover that the deadline to enroll was back in May, so it seems that I am out of luck. I would still like to do as much of it as I can. Is there a way to have access to the course assignments without enrolling and setting up an e-portfolio? I am signed in with and have an ID number, but have not enrolled in any courses. Your reply shall be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Steven,

      The enrollment is a formality and purely about having the course listed in your eportfolio account — some have a strong preference about that and some have no preference.

      If you have a Learn account you already have an eportfolio account, but neither is immediately necessary to dive into GEOG101 — just head here:

      The final exam and certificate will be available through August 26th, but the course will remain open to you at any time.

      1. The announcement about the “contraction” came just as I started with Saylor and started actively working on my courses.

        Considering that Unit 7 is the final exam for two courses that are very important to me, Chem 101 and Chem 102, will the Unit 7’s still be available after August 26th, can I do the final exams in the Unit 7’s after August 26 and get the marks (without certificates) after August 26th?

        In other words (and what I think what is different about what I’m asking), I’m asking whether the automatic marking feature of the Unit 7’s will stay without certificates, or will Saylor be pulling the Unit 7’s?

        I would also plead for Chem 102 to be allowed to survive the “contraction”, because it is the second half that goes with Chem 101 and completes the semester of chemistry. Otherwise, Chem 101 becomes an orphan.


        1. Hi Karen,

          I apologize for the delayed response — CHEM101 is completely “safe”, final exam, certificate, and all. We will most likely preserve and share the final exams and answers for most or all final exams for the legacy courses…we are just not sure what that is going to really look like yet.

  17. Just to clarify my question a little more, I am also testing what “final exam” means, because doing the Unit 7’s is good enough extrinsic award for me … though I think that “final exam” apparently means the proctored exams for most people here. I am not interested in the proctored exams.


    1. I believe that the final exam as the “Nth” unit of a course is a relic of how we converted the courses from HTML to Markdown format (the format in which they are hosted in GitHub, which then serves the files to the “legacy” site. That is, in the original course HTML code, the final exam was simply the Nth unit — the 7th, in the case of CHEM102. The conversion kept the code’s conventions. That is something that we could change over time, though, by editing the files in GitHub.

  18. Dear commission. I want to take the course MA222,but it’s a legacy course. So will I got the score certificate after passing the final exam? Thanks

    1. Hi Hao Li,

      Unfortunately, after the August 26th, there will not be a certificate. The lessons (and, we hope, the questions and answers from the final exam) will continue to be available, though.

  19. Hi there Sean,

    Any ideas yet as to how the shared/publicised answers to the final exams of the Legacy courses will look? You had previously mentioned that you thought they’d be preserved. Also, will Legacy courses get any kind of moderating attention? For example, duff links etc if that makes sense. 🙂

    1. Hi Joshua,

      Tanner is looking at what to do with exams as we speak — we ARE going to make them available in an least one human-readable format. The question is whether they will do something cool like have a form submit that takes you to an answer page (and whether there will be additional files that are machine-readable, for, say, educators that want to adopt and adapt).

  20. Also, have just thought of another question about the module numbering system-might relate to the changes/might not. I’ve just observed that in, for example the Art History module list there is an ARTH module 110, but no ARTH109 or lower. Is that just the numbering system, or are we missing modules? Would be good to know. Thanks.

    1. If 102 to 109 are missing, they were missing from the beginning! Our numbering systems, in general evoke U.S. undergraduate programs, whose schemes are predictable but often irregular or inconsistent. Looking back on some of the old documents I have access to, I do not see references to other 100-level ARTH courses. In some disciplines like philosophy, ENVS, STS, etc, there were other planned courses, once upon a time.

    2. If 102 to 109 are missing, they were missing from the beginning! Our numbering systems, in general evoke U.S. undergraduate programs, whose schemes are predictable but often irregular or inconsistent. Looking back on some of the old documents I have access to, I do not see references to other 100-level ARTH courses. In some disciplines like philosophy, ENVS, STS, etc, there were other planned courses, once upon a time.

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