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Education The Internet

San Jose State Suspends Collaboration With Udacity 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the much-easier-to-stay-home-and-skip-class-when-you're-already-home dept.
New submitter ulatekh writes "San Jose State University is suspending a highly touted collaboration with online provider Udacity to offer low-cost, for-credit online courses after finding that more than half of the students failed to pass the classes. 'Preliminary results from a spring pilot project found student pass rates of 20% to 44% in remedial math, college-level algebra and elementary statistics courses. In a somewhat more promising outcome, 83% of students completed the classes.'"
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San Jose State Suspends Collaboration With Udacity

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  • Graduation rates (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:58PM (#44331535) Homepage Journal

    Well duh, but seeing as how in many areas an 83% completion rate for a high school grade would be considered excellent, I can see why they consider it a positive sign.

    The 20-44% pass rates though, are pretty bad. For any cost-benefit analysis I'd want to know:
    1. How much the courses cost per course per student
    2. Where the students started knowledge wise, and where they ended, on average. Were they barely falling short?
    3. How much time the students had to invest in the course(another expense).

    Still I like the article, it mentions that their trial, while not particularly successful, did give them many areas to investigate for improvement.

  • by J Story (30227) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:13PM (#44331693) Homepage

    Reading between the lines, my guess is that many students thought an online course "inferior" to regular classes, and therefore okay to slack off when doing. Time, however, or time management, may be more the enemy than actual course matter.

    I know a high school student who takes online school courses, and one of the ongoing problems for the parents is getting the student to understand that there are X modules to do and only Y days to do them in. Dividing X by Y means that every two or three days something must be completed and sent in for marking. If this requirement is difficult for a high school student to follow without parental hectoring, then it is entirely understandable that kids only a couple years older, who no longer have their parents to help keep them on track, are going to run into problems.

  • Re:Assumption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intermodal (534361) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:16PM (#44331727) Homepage Journal

    Online courses are the collegiate equivalent of independent study programs. Independent study programs are definitely not for everyone.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:50PM (#44332101)

    Elitist to expect people to have basic mathematical skills? Is it elitist when I expect the average adult to be able to read and write? How about speak without drooling on themselves? How low do you want the bar?

  • by jopsen (885607) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Friday July 19, 2013 @04:53PM (#44332149) Homepage

    You can lead a student to learning, but you can't make them think.... or do the homework.

    It's not that simple... the story is that getting students into class, etc... i.e. the more traditional educational approaches, leads to more students doing the work required to learn something.

    I often see people bashing about how universities are expensive, and we should all drop out and just follow online courses... i.e. Learn it on our own...
    But this clearly shows that showing up for class, discussion with others and having supervisors expecting things from you is very important.
    Obviously, it should come as no surprise that educating your self, versus showing up for class, that ladder options is easiest and, thus, most likely to succeed.

    Luckily, I'm from a country where education is free... In fact, my living expenses were more or less covered, during the 5 years I just spend taking an MSc in CS.

  • by codepigeon (1202896) on Friday July 19, 2013 @05:11PM (#44332357)
    I love your USA centric thinking. I am an avid user of both Udacity and Coursera. I would take a guess that easily 90% of people using these sites are not U.S. citizens.

    That number is more troubling to me than any pass/fail rates. There doesn't seem to be a love of learning in USA.
  • by atom1c (2868995) on Friday July 19, 2013 @05:53PM (#44332853)

    I would disagree with you, but I've taken some MOOCs and forgot about my enrollment 2 months later... then there's an email, "congratulations to all students who submitted their final exam by the deadline!"

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:18PM (#44333983)
    I sign up for Coursera courses willy nilly. Then I let my schedule at the time the course starts dictate my participation; that along with the apparent quality of the course. So my completion/pass rate is abysmal. Most of the courses I withdraw from look awesome but through no fault of the course it is bye bye for me. Then there is the annoying situation where two awesome but time consuming courses start at the same time. So again through no fault of the course designers it is bye bye.

    Now if I had paid good money and was going to attend a bricks and mortar school course with a very fixed schedule I would make sure to schedule around that.

    So my guess is that this school was spooked by numbers that didn't match up with their existing medium of bums in seats. I also wonder if there are "metrics" that would then make this online course look like a complete dud. I could see a university looking at completion and withdrawal numbers to compare one professor to another. I suspect that the crappy professors just stand out statistically when compared to other professors. So this course may have statistically looked like a professor who would pee on the front row and throw feces at the student out of splashing distance all the while screaming that they can all pick up their F's at the end of class.

    Why they wouldn't look at this as an experiment and let it ride for a while? Basically try it, tweak it, try it, tweak it.

    The other thing that probably killed this course was how much it freaked out the non-researching teaching-only professors.

    My experience with university is that many of the courses are glorified highschool courses with glorified highschool teachers. But then hidden here and there are researchers on the prowl for students who have a future at the graduate levels. More online courses will make the distinction that much clearer when the glorified highschool teachers are basically demoted to online TAs while the real researchers are given the recognition that they are something different; mentors and researchers.

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